Stela Brinzeanu (Auroch 2014, Trade Peperback) 371 pages, cover price n/a
For her debut novel, the London-based journalist Stela Brinzeanu has chosen a balance between the harrowing and heartwarming, upon which she releases a quite considerable talent. The harrowing aspect is in Bessarabian Nights' fictional look at the quite real abomination of human trafficking in the sex trade. However, the story's focus is equally on the bonds and duties of friendship and loyalty.
To briefly limn the plot, Ksenia is a young woman from Moldova who goes to Italy for a romantic getaway with her boyfriend. Once there, she awakes one morning to find herself locked in a cellar. She is then repeatedly raped and abused in order to de-sensitize her for her new career as a prostitute. Once her disappearance is known her friends from Moldova, Larisa and Doina set out to find her. Interpol has not been of great help, nor would it be. It is estimated that tens of thousands of young women are caught up in web of human trafficking every year. And that is fact, not fiction.
Written in short, two to five page chapters, Brinzeanu writes in elegant yet simple prose. That is all for the best. As tempting as it would be to launch into flights of Grand Guignol prose, she allows her story to reveal itself on its own time and not bury the reader in shock after shock. After all, Nights is in the title and night does not strike suddenly; it creeps forward its darkness. And through it all, there are still the stars and colours of the indomitable will of those who love Ksenia. In sum, this is a quite brilliant debut novel and Stela Brinzeanu has announced herself as a needed new addition to the ranks of socially conscious authors.
Be seeing you.