Burying the Typewriter: Childhood Under the Eye of the Secret Police
by Carmen Bugan
This is my Romania selection for the EU Reading Challenge, and it’s so far my only book in this challenge that was originally written in English. I remember adding this to my wishlist when it was first published. Past me was smart.
It’s a memoir of the author’s first 18 years, when she lived in Romania. She and her family left Romania in late 1989 under threat of death and this is Bugan’s story of how they reached that point. It’s very much told from her own point of view, as the oldest child of Ion Bugan, who was twice imprisoned for protesting Nicolae Ceaușescu’s regime.
The book opens with Carmen’s early childhood, which was idyllically happy. Though her father was an activist long before his marriage and her birth, and never stopped secretly protesting, she was oblivious for many years. As the 1970s turn into the 1980s, the warning signs appear (with of course decades of hindsight). When Carmen turns 11 she begins to pay attention to the radio programmes her parents listen to; to the food shortages and fights over rationing on the streets; to the arguments her parents have about moving near to the border and becoming self-sufficient.