Burying the Typewriter: Childhood Under the Eye of the Secret Police

Burying the Typewriter: Childhood Under the Eye of the Secret Police


Burying the Typewriter

Author: Carmen Bugan

This story starts roughly in the 1970s, a few years after I was born, about the time when I began to have memories and my father’s codename was already long established as “Andronic”, a name we learned about only last summer…’

At 2 a.m. on 10 March 1983, Carmen Bugan’s father left the family home, alone. That afternoon, Carmen returned from school to find secret police in her living room. Her father’s protest against the regime had changed her life for ever. This is her story.

Original language

ENGLISH (UK & Comm.) | Picador
ENGLISH (North America) | Graywolf Press

Translation rights

POLISH | Czarne
ROMANIAN | Meteor Press
SWEDISH | Wahlström & Widstrand

  • Finalist for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, August 2013
  • Finalist for the George Orwell Prize for Political Writing, April 2013 (UK)
  • Winner of the Bakeless Prize for Nonfiction, a childhood memoir of political oppression and persecution during Romania’s Ceausescu years
  • The BBC based their documentary The Man Who Went Looking for Freedom on the book.

“A tenderly moving memoir. (…)  [Bugan] has a sharp eye for psychological nuances, including her own as she turns from reluctant dissident’s daughter to believer in her father’s demands for political freedom. (…) Anne Frank aside, one doesn’t often read accounts of persecution from the point of view of a young girl, much less one as poignant and unsentimental as this.”The Boston Globe

“Poet Bugan’s memoir mixes tender and tough observations, mirroring the contradictions of growing up in Romania in the 1970s and ’80s. . . . Bugan records a childhood marked by “bilingual” feelings and alternate worlds: one secure and joyful and the other a nightmare of secrecy and fear sparked by her dissident parents’ covert activities.( …) But as with the pickled watermelon she mentions eating at holiday time, the sweet moments in Bugan’s story offset with the sour notes.” Publishers Weekly

“Laura Ingalls Wilder’s LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE meets Anna Funder’s account of East German repression, STASILAND… It is a stunningly powerful piece of writing, a modern classic.” The Sunday Times

“A powerful account.” Sunday Times ‘Must Reads’

A heart-in-mouth account of life in Romania during Ceausescu’s tyrannical reign… Bugan’s story is harrowing, but not depressing: side by side with grim notes on austerity rations and constant fear and joyful descriptions of Bugan’s grandmother’s prune jam [and] sunflowers as big as Carmen’s head. The Lady

A beguiling memoir… BURYING THE TYPEWRITER can be read as a heartfelt indictment of an evil political system, but essentially it is a book touched with grace… It is the more moving and powerful for being so quiet and thoughtful and for celebrating the riches of the natural world that are always there to celebrate. Paul Bailey, Independent

“A superbly realised memoir of a childhood smudged out by political repression… This is a smashing book.” John Sweeney, Literary Review

“A warm and humane work… On a vastly smaller scale than Vasily Grossman’s epic LIFE AND FATE, Bugan nonetheless makes the same great point: that the right to be an individual us not the right to greed and selfishness, but the authenticity  of the self and one’s own modest idiosyncrasies, which Communism was never able to deliver. Lynda Grant, The Observer

A beautiful, vivid memoir of growing up in Ceausescu’s Romania… a childhood idyll gradually supplanted by a growing awareness of oppression. The Guardian

Rather than any analysis of [Bugan’s] father’s beliefs and activities, it is the author’s mix of the naïve and the knowing to present her memory of her life as a child that indicts totalitarianism more poignantly than her father’s politics of oppression. The Times

An evocative memoir of the transition from innocence to bitter experience.” Financial Times

An extraordinary memoir. Burying the Typewriter [has] a warmth that sometimes seems absent from works coming from Romania itself… it may be Bugan’s distance, literal and emotional, as a refugee ensconced in the new world (the family defected to Michigan and Bugan now lives in Switzerland), that has allowed her to describe these tortuous times with such startling warmth, perception and humanity.Quentin Curtis, The Telegraph

An impressive feat of narrative skill… Carmen Bugan has written a moving and truthful first-hand account of a story that cannot fail to absorb; her skill as a writer makes it an exemplary memoir as well.” Patrick McGuiness, TLS

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