the author and her work
Denise Roman grew up in Bucharest, Romania. Before settling in Los Angeles, she lived in Italy, Germany, Finland, and Canada.
A member of the Authors Guild of America, Denise is the author of a (non-fiction) monograph on Romanian arts, popular culture, and everyday life, FRAGMENTED IDENTITIES, published by Lexington Books/Rowman & Littlefield, 2003, 2007, and of a fantasy novel for children, MARIA DRACULA, signed Denise Roman/Alice Rose and translated and published in Romania in 2007 as MICUTA VRAJITOARE. In June 2005, the actors of the Fountain Theater in Los Angeles read scenes from her surrealist/absurdist play, VOYAGE TO THE MOON (also signed Alice Rose).
Denise has also published in the U.S. her father's child Holocaust memoir, THE VIOLINIST.
Denise has taken classes in film, fiction, poetry, and play writing in the Film and Writers' Programs at UCLA -- although she told and published stories and wrote poetry ever since she lived back in Bucharest. She published her first story in the "Ion Creanga" high-school journal Ramuri (Boughs) at eleven.
In her fiction writing, Denise blends Eastern European surrealist and North American realist traditions. She likes the poetry of Sylvia Plath, Louise Glück, Charles Simic, Lucian Blaga, and Paul Verlain, as well as the absurd theater of Eugene Ionesco.
Some of Denise's favorite fiction writers and poets are Kate Braverman, Suzanne Lummis, Arhundati Roy, Sandra Cisneros, Natalie Babbitt, Alice Hoffman, Cynthia Kadohata, Kate DiCamillo, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Octavio Paz, Carlos Fuentes, Italo Calvino, Thomas Mann, Franz Kafka, Virginia Woolf, and Jorge Louis Borges.
you came like oil fire,
melted the auburn of a vanished kiss.
Gun bled, I turned away
and ran, ran,
where shell creeks
our deceived tongues.
Do not come back!
I’ll damn you,
drag you into my underworld
of mouthless, eyeless, wingless fairies.
Float into the bleak hollow
the iris in the sky has opened for you.
your sleepwalking baptized Vedic gods,
that I will drug you with my blackened love.
Oh, you, twister dervish,
I am no longer your broken glass--
you, Bittersweet, Tailless Lizard,
my Hungry Ghost!
[(c) by Denise Roman, all rights reserved]
Published in THE POETRY MYSTIQUE, edited by Suzanne Lummis, 2015, in the Spring 2011 issue of the L.A.-based poetry magazine SPEECHLESS, and in Italian translation in the Rome-based POETI E POESIA.
FRAGMENTED IDENTITIES: POPULAR CULTURE, SEX, AND EVERYDAY LIFE IN POSTCOMMUNIST ROMANIA
Published by Lexington Books/Rowman & Littlefield (hardcover 2003, paperback 2007).
FRAGMENTED IDENTITIES explores the everyday life, identity politics, and women's lives roughly in the first fifteen years of post-communist transformation in Romania.
Denise Roman takes us to an exciting journey through . . . [the] changes Eastern European societies underwent as they emerged from communism.
-- Gordana Rabrenovic, Associate Director, Brudnick Center on Violence and Conflict Northeastern University, Boston
Denise Roman's . . . book should be read as a kind of 'flânerie', expressing the feel of everyday . . . life in post-1989 Romania.
-- Catherine Durandin, The National Institute of Oriental Languages and Literatures, Paris
Ms. Roman . . . has written not only an outstanding piece of academic scholarship, but a real 'page turner.'
-- Debra Renee Kaufman, Matthews Distinguished Professor of Sociology at Northeastern University, and author of Rachel's Daughters
[Roman's] walk through . . . one country’s postcommunist experience [is] a smart and often funny example of cultural theory in action.
-- Charles King, Associate Professor of Foreign Service and Government,
and holder of the Ion Ratiu Chair of Romanian Studies, Georgetown University
"[...] Today, Bucharest combines a variety of urban styles stretching back to medieval times. Feudal inns (han or caravanserai), such as the famous Hanul lui Manuc, join Ceausescu’s megalomaniacal architectural plans—including his palace, second in size only to the Pentagon, and the newly-built civic center surrounding it, the latter aptly labeled “the communist Disneyland.” No wonder that one Romanian author thinks of this postcommunist eclectic architecture, which coalesces signs of medievalism, modernism, Parisian-inspired nineteenth- and early twentieth-century urbanism, traditional Romanian Brâncovenean style, socialist realist artistry, and postcommunist skyscrapers and villas of the nouveaux riches—themselves challenging proofs of aesthetic eclecticism—a hodgepodge, or willy-nilly postmodernism. This stylistic combination of communist kitsch and occasionally chic European and Eastern influences might strike the flâneurs, constantly reminding them that they’ve reached an East-West gate between cultures and aesthetics.[...]"
(signed Denise Roman/Alice Rose)
In this coming-of-age fairy tale, a witch apprentice from Salem discovers that she is the great-granddaughter of Dracula from Transcarpathia – Maria Dracula - and, with his help, she battles a cruel regime and frees his fantastic country, Rondelia.
"Maria Dracula is truly an imaginative story. It has - just about - every magical exercise devised. Well-written, the narrative speeds along from one conflict to another. Somewhat gruesome in spots, a young student who hunkers down with the book will find action galore and a satisfying ending - with clues to a sequel. . . . Each chapter is fronted by a lovely ink-sketched illustration."
-- Nancy Ferrell, 1992 judge for the Golden Kite Award, reviewing more than 700 juvenile books; 1984 reviewer of children's books for the School Library Journal; reviewer for the Society of Children’s Books Writers & Illustrators.
Angela Ursillo, whose work can be seen in the movies Lord of the Rings and King Kong, signs the illustrations and book cover.
MARIA DRACULA is a finalist in ForeWord Magazine's 2005 Book of the Year Award contest, in juvenile fiction.
In 2007, MARIA DRACULA was published in Romania by Editura Didactica si Pedagogica from Bucharest.
MARIA DRACULA features as compulsory reading in the Syllabus for the English class at Milwood Elementary School in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
MARIA DRACULA featured in the February 9, 2006 issue of The New York Review of Books.
MARIA DRACULA featured at the leading children's publishing event: The Bologna Children's Book Fair 43rd edition, Bologna, Italy, March 27-30, 2006.
MARIA DRACULA was on display at BookExpo America, in Washington, D.C., May 19-21 2006.
MARIA DRACULA was on display at the Frankfurt Book Fair, Frankfurt, Germany, October 4-8, 2006.
MARIA DRACULA is a registered trademark with the United States Patents and Trademarks Office.
VOYAGE TO THE MOON
(signed Alice Rose)
In this fictional story, an idiosyncratic Jewish family made of three seniors and one ten-year-old grand-daughter try to escape totalitarian Romania during the terrible flood of 1976. Chased by the regime’s cops and fighting the marks of their repressed memories from both the Holocaust and the communist regime, the four end up on a raft, heading for their great dream: America.
The author wrote this play in the UCLA Writers’ Program workshops in play writing. She studied with playwrights Simon Levy and Leon Martell. In 2005, the actors of the Fountain Theater, in Los Angeles, read a few scenes of VOYAGE TO THE MOON.