Catalin Dorian Florescu
Catalin Dorian Florescu was born in 1967 in Timișoara, Romania. His parents were against the dictatorial Ceaușescu regime that had gained power two years earlier, and planned to leave the country in the long term. In 1976 a first attempt by Florescu and his father to emigrate to Italy, and then to the US, ended with their return to Romania eight months later. In 1982 the family left the country again, this time relocating to Switzerland. After studying psychology and psychotherapy at the University of Zurich, Florescu worked from 1995 to 2001 as a psychotherapeutic attendant at a rehabilitation center for drug addicts.
In 2001 he published his first novel, »Wunderzeit« (tr. Time of miracles), the story of a teenager named Alin who shares the author’s basic biographic data, living in several different locations in the East and West over the course of his childhood. He makes his way from his familiar home city in Romania to the freer metropolis of Rome, to New York’s poverty-stricken Bronx, and then finally back to his home country. As the day of his final emigration from Romania draws closer, the boy becomes more and more clear about who he is. The defining experience of moving back and forth between two ideologically opposed hemispheres and alternating between various life plans informs the central theme of his subsequent novels, each in its own way: »Der kurze Weg nach Hause« (2002; tr. The short way home), »Der blinde Masseur« (2006; tr. The blind masseur) and »Zaira« (2008). With each book the author has become progressively known for his masterful narrative style and his sensual, lively language. Florescu, whose books have been translated into many languages, won the Swiss Book Prize for his fifth novel, »Jakob beschließt zu lieben« (2011; tr. Jakob resolves to love). The protagonist, Jacob Obertin, cannot hold his ground in the 1930s battle for supremacy in a Romanian village, which leads to his domineering father’s scorn and betrayal. With Europe’s seething history as a backdrop, Jacob suffers severe strokes of fate, yet always manages to find renewed courage with the help of other people. The author’s latest novel, »Der Mann, der das Glück bringt« (2016; tr. The man who brings luck), was deemed his »masterpiece« (»Der Stern«): a century-long panorama from the perspective of ordinary people, beginning in the 19th century with a fisherman’s daughter from the Danube Delta and a struggling artist trying to make a living in a New York swarming with immigrants, right up to the attack on the Twin Towers, the day the protagonists Ray and Elena meet for the first time.
Among the numerous awards Florescu has thus far received for his work are the Adelbert von Chamisso Prize (2002), the Anna Seghers Prize (2003) and the Eichendorff-Literaturpreis for his entire oeuvre (2012). The author is based in Zurich, and has been a writer-in-residence and fellowship holder in several cities around the world.