Following a Stendhal mission, Liliana Lazar publishes “Carpates”

I will always be attached to the forest, which has an almost magical appeal to me.

In January, Romanian writer Liliana Lazar, who has been based in the South of France since the 90s, published her third novel, Carpates, in immersed in a ruthless religious context. This publication follows the support of the Institut français' Stendhal programme, which has now been replaced by the MIRA - Mobilité à l’International de Recherche Artistique (International Travel for Artistic Research programme. 

Updated on 29/01/2024

5 min

Liliana Lazar, a French-language writer, was born in 1972 in eastern Romania. She grew up in the small village of Slobozia, surrounded by the forest, a village that would serve as the backdrop for her first novel. She then enrolled at Alexandru Ioan Cuza University in Iași, where she studied French literature. After the fall of the dictator Ceaușescu, she left her country and moved to Gap in the South of France in 1996, where she still lives today. After a well-received début novel, Terre des affranchis, published in 2009 by Gaïa, she won a host of literary awards. This was followed by Enfants du diable, immersed in the hell of the pro-natalist policy under Ceaușescu, and Carpates, her third and latest novel, published by Plon. Deeply rooted in the context of Romanian history, Lazar’s books are also populated by fantastical creatures, and each time offer a fascinating journey through the religious life of the country’s most remote regions. 

Lazar’s work, which is closely connected to her native Romania, is interspersed with both social and fantastical themes. Legends and the forest have a central role. Her first novel, Terre des affranchis (which translates as "Land of the Free") is set in the isolated village of Slobozia, near to a lake known as the Lions’ Pit where the hero Victor takes refuge, with the story of Romania as the backdrop, centred on religion and the fall of the communist regime. In her next book, Enfants du diable ("The Devil's Children"), it is midwife Elena, forced to apply the pro-natalist policy of the Ceaușescu government, who chooses to seek exile in a remote region of the country, where she takes a child who has been entrusted to her and whom she will have to raise. Nature and religion still play the leading role in the author's latest book, Carpates ("Carpathians"), in which a French couple, Jeanne and Boris, get lost in a strange hamlet run by women who belong to a community of Old Believers. 

Liliana Lazar’s literary vocation is deeply linked to her discovery of the French language. “When I started reading in French,” she says, “I realised that there was a different reality to the one experienced in Romania.” She wrote her first novel in French, which was acclaimed by Nobel Prize in Literature-winner J.M.G Le Clézio, who quickly commended her “audacity”, drawing a parallel between her mastery of the codes of fantasy and authors such as Grimm and Georges Sand. In 2012, she also received a Stendhal grant, which supports international mobility for French-speaking authors, for a trip to Romania.. Her latest novel, Carpates, published by Plon, is now about to reach its audience. 

  • 1972


    Born in Romania.

  • 1996


    Arrives in Gap, France.

  • 2009


    Terre des affranchis, published by Gaïa.

  • 2016


    Enfants du diable, published by Seuil.

  • 2023


    Carpates, published by Plon.

L'institut français, LAB