What is the best-known book set in Romania?

See note on methodology

I have to apologise on behalf of Ireland to my Romanian friends here. There is one book that is the most frequently tagged “Romania” by Goodreads, and is also the most widely owned among such books by LT users (it is beaten on GR ownership by Elie Wiesel’s Night, but I have assigned that to Poland, and more LT users have tagged The Historian with “Romania”, but not much of it is set there). Although most of the book is actually set in England, the memorable beginning and end are firmly rooted in what is now Romania, and I think it’s a pretty clear answer to the modified question, “name the best known book that people in the wider English-speaking world think of as being set in Romania”. Published in 1897 by an Irish writer, it is of course:

Dracula, by Bram Stoker

It has spawned an awful lot of novels (and films, TV series, and other artistic endeavours) with a similar theme. Some of them claim to be set in Romania, but to be honest I shall just note the names of Jeaniene Frost, Beth Fantaskey and Meg Cabot and leave you to explore. The most promising of these books appears to be one by an Australian writer, set in early 1500s Transylvania and published in 2006:

Wildwood Dancing, by Juliet Marillier

The best-known book about Romania which is actually by a writer from Romania and set in her country of birth (she moved to Germany in 1987) was published in 1994 and probably helped win its author the 2009 Nobel Prize for Literature. It is:

The Land of Green Plums / Herztier, by Herta Müller

On Goodreads, Romanian literature is in general better represented, and the top book set in Romania by a Romanian author is a 1938 novel of an unhappy love story:

Enigma Otiliei (“Otilia’s Riddle”), by George Călinescu

It doesn’t appear to have been translated into English.

One thought on “What is the best-known book set in Romania?

  1. Thanks for mentioning me. I just put up my picks for novel. In short, from top to bottom I chose 2312, Crescent Moon, Blackout, Captain Vorpatril, Redshirts.

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