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The Last Hundred Days

The Last Hundred Days

The Romanian revolution of 1989 was the bloodiest and most violent of all the uprisings that marked the end of Communism in Europe. The trial and execution of the dictator Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife Elena on Christmas Day, the street fighting between rebels and the hated Securitate and the pillaging of Ceausescu’s luxurious palaces and villas became, along with the fall of the Berlin Wall, the defining images of the end of the Cold War.

Set during Ceausescu’s last hundred days in power, Patrick McGuinness’s accomplished debut explores a world of danger, repression and corruption. When our narrator, a young English student with a damaged past and an uncertain future, arrives in Bucharest he finds himself in a job he never applied for.

With duties that become increasingly ambiguous and precarious, he soon finds himself uncomfortably and often dangerously close to the eye of the storm. He learns, as he goes, the uncertainty of friendships in a surveillance society: friendships that are compromised and riddled with danger and duplicity. He encounters dissidents, party apparatchiks, black-marketeers, diplomats, spies and ordinary Romanians, their lives all intertwined against a background of severe poverty and repression as Europe’s most paranoid regime plays out its bloody endgame.

About the Author

Patrick McGuinness

Patrick McGuinness was born in Tunisia in 1968 and lived in Bucharest in the years leading up to the Romanian revolution. He is a Professor of French and Comparative Literature at the University of Oxford and a Fellow of St Anne’s College where he has taught since 1998. He now lives between Oxford and North West Wales. His poetry collections include The Canals of Mars (2004) and Jilted City (2010), which was long-listed for the Wales Book of the Year Award 2011 and was a Poetry Book Society Recommendation. McGuiness has also won an Eric Gregory Award, the American Poetry Foundations Levinson Prize and the Poetry Business Prize for his poetry, whilst his translation of Mallarmé’s For Anatole’s Tomb, was the Poetry Book Society’s Translation Choice.

McGuiness frequently writes and presents for radio. Some of his memorable pieces include A Short History of Stupidity and The Art of Laziness for BBC Radio 3. He has also discussed poetry, French culture and his own work as a poet and translator on BBC Radio 3’s Night Waves and BBC Radio 4’s Women’s Hour. McGuiness is also a frequent contributor to the Times Literary Supplement, and The London Review of Books and reads and speaks at literary festivals in the UK, US, Canada, France, Czech Republic, Austria and Italy.

The Last Hundred Days (2011) is his first novel.