LitBirthdays May 27 – June 2, 2012

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May 28 |
May 29 |
May 30 |

May 31 |
June 1 |
June 2 |


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Creative Beginnings



May 27


Born May 27

Andrei Georgiyevich Bitov (Russian: Андрей Георгиевич Битов) (b. 1937) – Russian novelist, poet

John Cheever (b. 1912) – U.S. novelist, short story writer – The Stories of John Cheever (1979)

Rachel Carson (b. 1907) – U.S. marine biologist and environmentalist – Silent Spring

Dashiell Hammett (b. 1894) – U.S. detective fiction novelist – The Maltese Falcon


May 28


Born May 28

Muriel Barbery (b. 1969) – French novelist – The Elegance of the Hedgehog (2006)

Patrick White (b. 1912) – Australian novelist, poet, 1973 Nobel Prize for Literature – Voss (1957)

Ian Fleming (b. 1908) – U.K. novelist (James Bond series) – From Russia With Love (1957)

John Fogerty (b. 1945) – U.S. singer/songwriter for rock band Creedence Clearwater Revival – “Born on the Bayou”


May 29


Born May 29

Leah Goldberg (לאה גולדברג; ) (b. 1911) – Israeli poet

G.K. Chesterton (b. 1874) – U.K. novelist, poet, short story writer – “The Scandal of Father Brown”


May 30


Born May 30

Agnes Varda (b. 1928) – French film director, writer – The Beaches of Agnes / Les plages d’Agnès (2008)

Vizma Belševica (b. 1931) – Latvian poet, novelist – Words about Words


May 31


Born May 31

Svetlana Alexievich (b. 1948) – Belarusian writer – The Chernobyl Prayer: Chronicles of the Future (aka Voices from Chernobyl)

Judith Wright (b. 1915) – Australian poet, environmentalist, human rights activist – “Bora Ring”

Walt Whitman (b. 1819) – U.S. poet


June 1

Mircea Cartarescu
Mircea Cărtărescu (b. 1956) – Romanian poet, novelist, and essayist

Read about Mircea Cărtărescu here

Read a 2016 interview:

Read a profile of Mircea Carterescu here

Seven floors high, over 250 metres long, eight entrances – a great hulk of grey, weathered concrete slabs built in the early 1960s at Stefan cel Mare. “We call them matchbox flats,” says Mircea Cartarescu and holds open the door of the lift, which is just big enough for him, his wife (the poet and journalist Ioana Nicolaie) and myself to squeeze in. On the fifth floor his parents open the door, and he leads the way into his childhood bedroom. The room is furnished with a large bed, a cupboard, a table and a chair.

I have never been here before and yet I know the room. It is where Cartarescu’s novel “Die Wissenden” (or “The Knowing” –  vol. 1 of the “Orbitor” trilogy) begins: the young narrator sits on the bed and looks out over Bucharest just like Victor Hugo’s chimaera looked out over Paris.

At the age of 24 he joined the legendary university “Monday circle” led by literary critic Nicolae Manolescu. “Faruri, vitrine, fotografii” (headlights, window displays, photographs) is the title of his debut work published that same year. “We moved from the European poetry tradition to the American, we wanted to be faster, harder, more powerful.” Allen Ginsberg, John Ashbery and Frank O’Hara were the models for the “Eighties Generation”, who dedicated themselves to the reality of here and now and survived unscathed at the university despite their dissident views. After producing three volumes of poetry as a student and while working as a primary school teacher on the outskirts of Bucharest, Cartarescu began writing prose.

Read an essay by Cartarescu “The Gypsies – a Romanian problem” here

The Romanians in Wallachia and Moldavia – alone in Europe – made the Gypsies their slaves, binding them to the soil. Torn from their nomadic way of life, the Gypsies were forced to put down roots on the land of their masters…. Paradoxically, we gave these ancient inhabitants the coup de grace in granting them their freedom. In the wake of 1848, enthusiasm gripped the new, pro-Western Romanian elite. Not for the first time, philanthropy paved the way for horrendous catastrophe. Assembled before the estates of hundreds of enlightened boyars, the Gypsy slaves were told: “Brothers, you are free! Go where your feet take you.”

This “slave liberation,” without the slightest logistical or psychological preparation, wreaked unthinkable havoc. Hundreds of thousands of Gypsies were suddenly free to die of hunger. With no money, clothing or livelihood, without a belief or a culture – with nothing but their naked humanity, they soon populated the prisons en masse. [from an English translation of an article from Neue Zürcher Zeitung November 29, 2007]

Read some of Cartarescu’s poems (in Romanian) here


Born June 1

Casper de Vries (b. 1954) – South African (Afrikaans) comedian

Naguib Surur (b. 1932) – Egyptian playwright and poet


June 2


Born June 2

Dorothy West (b. 1907) – U.S. novelist, short story writer (Harlem Renaissance) – The Wedding (1995)

Xiao Hong (b. 1911) – Chinese novelist,  poet,  short story writer – The Field of Life and Death / Sheng Si Chang (1934)


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