A Cemetery for Bees

By Alina Dumitrescu

A Cemetery for Bees
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This autobiographical novel traces the journey of a woman from her youth in Socialist Eastern Europe to her transplanted life in Montreal, Canada. She is a precocious, thoughtful child, whose early life in Romania is marked by the scarcities of the time and the political games ... Read more


Overview

This autobiographical novel traces the journey of a woman from her youth in Socialist Eastern Europe to her transplanted life in Montreal, Canada. She is a precocious, thoughtful child, whose early life in Romania is marked by the scarcities of the time and the political games needed to survive, but she is not unhappy. Placed around her family's house are hives--the bees discourage the secret police from visiting too often--and they provide both a childish diversion and an overarching metaphor for departure and home. An elegant, candid book, A Cemetery for Bees is an elegy for childhood, a declaration of francophile love, and a complicated look at who we are, who we were, and where we might find ourselves.

Alina Dumitrescu

Alina Dumitrescu was born in Moine?ti in what was then the Socialist Republic of Romania, and emigrated to Montréal in 1988, shortly before the fall of the Ceau?escu regime. Her schooling was not recognized in her adoptive country, and she undertook CEGEP and university studies in Québec. She started writing again in the late 1990s, in French, publishing poetry and short fiction. Le cimetière des abeilles, her first novel, was published by Triptyque in 2016, and was a finalist at the Festival du premier roman de Chambéry and won the Blue Metropolis/Conseil des arts de Montréal Diversity Prize.

Excerpt

While I'm in Bucharest to pick up the passport, my mother takes it upon herself to launch into some spring cleaning. She digs up and moves my white lilac. The room is very clean when I return, just two unpacked suitcases, undecided and forever unready.

My mother has already buried me. Inverted mourning. I am inconsolable.

With the passport in my pocket, the first one I've ever had, I start my farewell tour. Instead of bringing flowers, I show the passport to those who've never seen one before. I am twenty-eight years old, the child is three.

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