The monstrously repressive world of Ceausescu's Romania provides the setting and the subject of Richard Wagner's extraordinary narrative, written shortly before the Christmas revolution.
Stirner, the main protagonist, is an ethnic German, and lives in Timisoara, the town which was to be the revolution's birthplace. He works as a journalist — a meaningless job, since the Party is the only source of news or comment and no one reads the papers. His wife teaches German, but German lessons, like many things, are 'dispensable', and may even be subversive. Her vocabulary classes — which include words like 'salt', 'duck' and 'apricot' — have been reported to the Securitate. Finally, facing nothing but 'the next humiliation and the one after that', Stirner and his wife apply for an exit-visa.
In fine, stark prose and with the scrupulous detail of the best documentarists, Richard Wagner has recorded the absurdities, the betrayals and the claustrophobia of daily life in one of Europe's last dictatorships. Richard Wagner returned to Timisoara to write a preface to this edition, in which he reflects on how far life has changed since the revolution.