Dear Comrade Novak is cultural fiction set in communist Romania during the 1980s.
The story follows the tales of three young people: Attila, a young Hungarian, Tiberius, the son of secret police parents, and Viorica, a gypsy girl. Each lives a very different life, but the 1989 Romanian revolution brings them together.
Attila lives a double life; a homosexual in a country with blinkered views on same sex relationships. He also rises to become a feared criminal interrogator.
Tiberius is groomed to follow his parents into the secret service. He agrees to a political marriage, but his true love has always been for Attila’s sister.
Viorica has always loved Tiberius, but her life follows an arranged marriage to a bully.
The author paints a good picture of the plight of the Romanians under the communist regime. Fear is rife; spies are everywhere as neighbours succumb to reporting on each other in return for payments from those in authority; poverty makes them desperate. Food shortages mean queuing for daily items and cars are considered luxury items, with a waiting time measured in years, for ownership.
I found the descriptions of life under communism very interesting. The main characters were harder to empathise with; I felt there was room for a deeper development of them all, so that the reader could become more emotionally attached. I wanted to feel more of the conspiracies and danger that the characters became embroiled in. Overall, a solid piece of fiction, but it needed a little more depth to lift it above an average read.
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A story about conspiracy and revolution, love and hate, and the strong power of friendship.
In 1980s communist Romania, three school graduates form an unusual friendship: 17-year old Attila, who’s in love with his 45-year old teacher; Tiberius, son of high class secret police parents; and the gypsy Viorica, who is forced into a marriage arranged when she was four.
When a conspiracy scandal throws their life upside down, all three of them will have to choose their sides: for or against the cruel tyrant Ceausescu.