A deeply felt, deftly rendered novel of the utmost importance to any reader interested in understanding totalitarianism and its terrible human cost. Urgent, evocative, and utterly convincing, Velvet Totalitarianism is a book to treasure, and Claudia Moscovici is indeed a writer to watch, now and into the future.
–Travis Holland, author of the critically acclaimed novel, The Archivist’s Story, a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection.
Claudia Moscovici’s first novel, Velvet Totalitarianism, triumphs on several levels: as a taut political thriller, as a meditation on totalitarianism, as an expose of the Ceausescu regime, and as a moving fictionalized memoir of one family’s quest for freedom.
–Ken Kalfus, author of the novel A Disorder Peculiar to the Country
(2006 National Book Award nominee), of The Commissariat of Enlightenment (2003) and of PU-239 and Other Russian Fantasies (1999).
Western intellectuals have often blurred the fundamental differences between the imperfect free world they have been fortunate to enjoy and the totalitarian world of communism they never had the misfortune to endure. Claudia Moscovici’s Velvet Totalitarianism is a powerful corrective to that ivory tower distortion of reality. Moscovici makes her readers viscerally feel the corrosive psychological demoralization and numbing fear totalitarian regimes impose on those who live under them. At the same time, with style and wit, and informed by her experiences as a child in communist Romania and then as an immigrant in the United States, she tells a story of resilience and hope. Velvet Totalitarianism is a novel well worth reading, both for its compelling narrative and for its important message.
–Michael Kort, Professor of Social Science at Boston University and author of the best-selling textbook, The Soviet Colossus: History and Aftermath
This vivid novel by Claudia Moscovici, historian of ideas and wide-ranging literary critic, traces a family of Jewish-Romanian refugees from the stifling communist dictatorship of their homeland through their settling in the United States during the 1980’s. This fascinating and compelling story is at once historically accurate, exciting, sexy and a real page-turner. Ms. Moscovici is as sensitive to the emotions of her characters as to their political entanglements.
–Edward K. Kaplan, Kevy and Hortense Kaiserman Professor in the Humanities at Brandeis University and author of Spiritual Radical: Abraham Joshua Heschel in America, 1940-1972, winner of the National Jewish Book Award
Moving between extraordinary and ordinary lives, between Romania and the United States, velvet totalitarianism and relative freedom, dire need and consumerism, evoking her Romanian experience in the seventies, the emigration to the U.S. of her family in the eighties, and the 1989 uprising in Timisoara and Bucharest that marked the end of Ceausescu’s regime, Claudia Moscovici offers her readers a multifaceted book—Velvet Totalitarianism—that is at once a love story, a political novel and a mystery. Love is the last resort left to people in order to counter totalitarianism under Ceausescu’s rule. It keeps families united, allowing them to resist indoctrination and hardship and to make sure their children enjoy the carefree beautiful years that are their due. Love gives the protagonist of the novel the strength to overcome cultural differences between Romania and the U.S. and to invent in turn a form of personal happiness in a context that, while far from being as harsh as her initial one, does not lack its own problems.
— Sanda Golopentia, Professor of French, Brown University
Cold historical facts and figures tend to leave us emotionally indifferent. The impact of a nation’s tragic events on one single person or family is much better understood and more profoundly felt. This is what makes Claudia Moscovici’s book, Velvet Totalitarianism, so very special. Her novel is prefaced by a well-researched history of Romania under communism. Depending on one’s point of view, Moscovici’s work could be considered as the fictionalized story of a real Jewish-Romanian family under communism, based on her own recollections and that of her family and supported by true historical facts; or a brief history supported by the fictionalized story of a real family. It’s a book well worth reading. The novel is a page-turner, witty and well written.
–Nicolae Klepper, author of the best-selling book, Romania: An Illustrated History.