Thursday, March 26, 2015

Title spotlight - "Sharia" by Roxana Brînceanu, Romanian 2nd edition

Does this look like “Planet of the Apes”? Based on the cover and the synopsis it certainly does, but Roxana Brînceanu’s “Sharia” has nothing to do with the notorious novel and movies. Perhaps they are a source of inspiration, but I am not willing to bet on that since I have no way of knowing that without making a wild guess. “Sharia” is Roxana Brînceanu’s debut novel, catalogued at the time of its first publishing, in 2005, as a high-tech urban fantasy. In 2008 “Sharia” was awarded with the Vladimir Colin Award, one of the very few awards recognizing the speculative fiction in Romania, and although this might not say much considering the amount of controversies and debates such prizes gather around them here, apparently more than anywhere else, it is still an interesting achievement for Roxana Brînceanu’s novel. This year Millennium Books releases a reprinted edition of the novel and since I’ve missed the first edition published in 2005 now I have a good chance to see if “Sharia” is as good as it appears to be at a first glance. Not only that the synopsis sounds very appealing, but Roxana Brînceanu’s “Sharia” is backed by strong recommendations, seeing it printed again by Millennium Books, one of the best promoters of Romanian speculative fiction, is a form of guarantee on itself, while a favorable critique from Michael Haulică is always something that cannot be easily ignored. Top all these with a catchy cover, replacing the unimpressive, bland one of the first edition, and the fact that seeing a Romanian speculative fiction writer being published, even in reprint, is a very welcomed sight these days and you’ll see why I am so thrilled by the re-release of Roxana Brînceanu’s “Sharia”. And with the risk of repeating myself on a loop I am keeping my fingers crossed for this novel, as well as others, to be translated into English someday.

The citizenship is awarded based on the IQ and families can be formed by humans, chimpanzees and dolphins. The gorillas might accuse you of racism, but you could escape by taking a new identity, changing your identification chip with someone else’s. Returning to nature is a dissident act and the rock groups are made by dogs and humans. Welcome to SHARIA, Roxana Brînceanu’s fantastical world!

“You read a chapter, than another, you want to go to sleep or to attend other things and, like any normal person, you should close the book, continuing its reading the next day. But, these days, who is normal anymore? Obviously you peek on the first page of the next chapter, to reassure yourself, to find out with a few hours earlier what happens with the character… And so you are sinning and end up reading another chapter. Dynamite!”
Michael Haulică

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