Book Talk: The Last Winter by Adrian Grigore

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As the 1980s came to a close, it was a time of anticipation and tension in Romania as the nation's totalitarian regime likewise neared its end ―The Last Winter for Ceausescu’s regime had come. In his novel, scientist and author Dr. Adrian Grigore portrays the realities faced by Romanians in those days: the irresistible lure of freedom so close to fruition, juxtaposed with the palpable sense of dread as their government desperately struggled to survive. The Last Winter shows readers the final spasms of a system that was indifferent at best and malign at worst, which allowed the nation's vital institutes to crumble, while actively suppressing society in general and stymieing all forms of dissent. Moreover, beyond the clash of resistors and oppressors, there is also a poignant depiction of those caught in the middle, ordinary people barely getting by with their daily routines, all too hapless in the face of forces that are beyond them. With this, Grigore puts these events in a broader perspective, showing their true significance as well as their relevance in these times. That proverb about those who forget history has never rung truer.

One of Grigore’s inspirations for this work was a heartbreaking discovery he made in one of Romania's foremost libraries. There, he saw important scientific texts covered in ice due to a faulty heating system. He took photographs of the facility's state of disrepair but fell afoul of the authorities. He was threatened and his records were confiscated. Yet he persisted and publicized his account, an act that further displeased those in power. While this was not the safest course of action, it resulted in the library's transfer to a new building with modern facilities and the preservation of those invaluable books. He took risks but in doing so delivered results.

Grigore’s work has received praise from his fellows in the Romanian scientific and intellectual community. Particularly from those have witnessed firsthand the consequences of authoritarianism in stunting their respective fields, and the repressions experienced by civilians in general.

The Last Winter distills such experiences. This is the work of a writer, not reportage. It is a blend of reality and fiction, drawn from Grigore’s encounters with injustice and unfairness, as well as from his vast well of inspiration, resulting in an engaging narrative. Ultimately, readers will see that dissent and defiance can bring change. The Last Winter will come, no matter how difficult times may get, or how oppressive societies may become. The snow will end, spring will come and with it, new struggles for future generations to face and overcome.

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Adrian Grigore is born on July 8, 1956 in Humele County of Arges, Romania. Because his father was an Orthodox priest, the Romanian communist authorities forbade him to follow the Faculty of History, as he wished, and refused his requests to travel abroad. He graduated from the Faculty of Electronics in Bucharest. He has been working since 1977 for the Seismic Network in Romania. He debuted in literature in 1998 with a historical novel Traga Serpilor (The Dragons’Trail). This was followed by the novel Alerta maxima ( Red Alert), a thrilling story of Cold War spies using information from seismic networks. In 2004 Adrian Grigore published in Romanian and in English the novel The Last Winter. Every day Adrian Grigore thanks God that in 1989 the Iron Curtain fell.

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