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Profusion Crime Series Launch seen by George Arion

George Arion, the dean of Romanian crime writers, recounts his meeting with the London audience on 30 November 2011



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How did it go in London?

Article published in the Pipa lui Arion (Arion’s Pipe) series | in no 19 (December 2011) of Suspans.ro
Author: George Arion

I feel I should reply like Ion in [Caragiale’s play] Năpasta (The Misfortune): “Praise the Lord, fine.” But the environment in which we’ve found ourselves tells me I should rephrase it differently: “Thanks, it went very well!”.

But where were we – myself, Bogdan Hrib, Oana Stoica Mujea – as authors, and Alexandru Arion – for the moment just as an editor?

For a while, we were inside a building all in glass and aluminium. Canary Wharf. We climbed there after we were checked on some lists and received an identification badge each. A lift propelled us to the 31st floor. I have not even felt when we reached it. In Bucharest, the lift that takes me to the 7th floor, to my apartment, takes longer and, what’s more, it’s also shaking.

As soon as the doors of the lift opened, my eyes rested on a poster announcing the evening’s event. I waved to the three people depicted on it – I knew them, they were us.

We left our coats on a railing in the hallway and hurried to the place where the launch was due to take place.

Disappointment. The only people there were the waiters, busy with the last preparations before the guests arrived. But, without noticing the emptiness around them, three young women in evening dress were playing the violin, viola and cello. Refined music from other times.

Bogdan Hrib started to take photos. Oana walked around looking like a widow – an allusion to her novel Parfumul văduvei negre (The Perfume of the Black Widow).

I went closer to one of the huge windows. I looked down. Buildings smaller than Canary Wharf, people the size of ants on the streets, going on in a mad Brownian motion, many lights and advertising. An ice-skating ring on whose ice nobody was gliding.

Shapes started to be reflected in the windows. Our audience of that night had started to arrive. I returned to the place where numerous unknown people had sat down at tables. Writers, literary critics, journalists, literary agents, businesspeople. A number of Romanians from the diaspora. Each with a glass of champagne in front of them. I was going to get acquainted to some of them later.

My heart came back in my chest. Ramona Mitrică, director at Profusion Crime, smiled at me encouragingly. “It will be fine”, she seemed to be saying.

The novels that were being launched appeared on a table, awaiting their first buyers: Kill the General by Bogdan Hrib and Attack in the Library by George Arion. Anatomical Clues by Oana Stoica Mujea will be launched around Christmas. The translation into English is signed by Ramona Mitrică, Mike Phillips, Mihai Rîşnoveanu. The readers in the UK were introduced for the first time to Romanian crime fiction. A premiere. Due to the wonderful Profusion team.

I noticed that Eugen Androne and Adrian Cherciu, also involved in the project, were lending a hand so that the event was seamless.

And then the charismatic Mike Phillips appeared, a well known journalist and writer. An appearance fit for a great movie star – unbuttoned coat, a scarf worn with studied carelessness. He knew almost all present in the room and exchanged greetings with them.

The event started by presenting the dean of the Romanian writers. They meant me. Then a parallel lecture started – I read aloud the start of the novel in Romanian, then Mike read it in English.

Cadavrul se află în dreapta mea, aşezat pe un maldăr de cărţi.” – I enounced filled with emotion. “The corpse is to the right of me, lying on a pile of books.” – Mike’s voice was heard like an echo. The platform was then given to Bogdan Hrib and Oana Stoica Mujea.

We were in London. The day was 30 November 2011. St Andrew’s Day. It’s a celebration which was not even dreamed at by my congenial hero Andrei Mladin, a character who came into this world in 1983, when Attack in the Library was first published.