This interview is the first in our series of interviews devoted to new journals around the world, especially those founded around the time of the pandemic. We are interested in how the global literary community is growing. Most of our interviews will be with journal editors who publish in English, but we also find it fascinating and informative to know about new journals around the world who are publishing in languages besides English. Laconic publishes flash fiction in Romanian (also in translation from English to Romanian). We conducted this interview with the Laconic team: Raluca Nagy, Vlad Beu, Marius Deacu, and Elisabeta Gedő. Thank you so much for telling us about your vision.
Christopher Allen, SmokeLong Quarterly
What a thrill to discover a flash journal in Romania. What led you to establish a journal devoted to the shortest of the narrative forms–in Romanian?
The starting point of our journey was a desire to reignite the interest in Romanian contemporary literature. Believing wholeheartedly in the captivating power of concise narratives, we recognized that these bite-sized stories have a unique ability to engage modern readers in a way that longer tales sometimes do not. Our own fascination with the power of brevity in storytelling further fueled our ambitions. In a world where we are bombarded with texts of all shapes and forms while our attention span keeps diminishing, flash fiction could be the winner.
Moreover, we felt that this format had been largely uncharted in Romanian literature. This discovery only served to heighten our pioneering excitement at the prospect of the potential impact the initiative could have. We have to say that, while there are other journals touching upon flash fiction, Laconic is the first publication fully and exclusively dedicated to this format.
Yet, our aspirations extend beyond the boundaries of what we publish. We think that Laconic can act as a gateway for our readers to explore other writings of the featured authors. By showcasing their talent in the compact and concentrated medium of flash fiction, we hope to pique curiosity and encourage further exploration of their work, whether in the form of short stories, novels or even poetry or theater.
How has the flash community in Romania grown since you began?
One of our aims was to reach beyond the literary bubble and bring the work of Romanian contemporary writers to new readers. While this ambition is more challenging than anticipated, we have laid a strong foundation and remain committed to its realization.
Our community-building efforts have centered around social media. We are grateful to have partnered with cultural influencers who have helped us attract new readers. Additionally, a monthly competition and regular book giveaways have boosted engagement and fostered a deeper connection with our audience.
Since our launch, we’ve been happily overwhelmed with submissions, receiving ~400 flash proposals and having published 80 of them. Though still in the early days, our emerging community of 20K readers in just 5 months fills us with hope.
As a flash community, we’re all still learning the ropes, editors, authors, and readers alike. The thrill lies in our collective journey to enhance and evolve this captivating form within Romanian literature.
What differences do you see in flash among the languages you read? Are there specific themes that Romanian flash deals with that you see less of in other languages?
Short stories in Romania tend to follow the American format, or at least this is what the majority of the available creative writing classes, in universities or elsewhere, encourage students to practice.
On the other hand, the Romanian literary tradition and generational influences lend a distinctive stylistic and thematic specificity, very much centered around autofiction. The recurring backdrop of Romania during the late communism/early transition decades still captures almost all the attention. Social and personal perspectives are often examined in a confessional manner.
Childhood experiences have been extensively explored and memories take on a nostalgic tone, evoking longing and reflection. These themes are expressed through lyrical prose, noticeable in the choice of language and pacing of the narratives, and reflecting a deliberate and measured approach even in the choice of verbal forms.
Family and its complexity and challenges in the aforementioned (post)communist decades are also prevalent themes, giving an overall feeling of therapeutic literature. This type of flash is also the preferred genre on Laconic, because readers find it very relatable.
Does flash have a history in Romania? Who would you consider influential?
While flash fiction does not have a long-established history in Romania, we are witnessing an encouraging shift. Our platform has inspired influential writers in the country and abroad to venture into the realm of flash fiction, and we are proud to have featured their works on Laconic. Additionally, we’re excited to see the emerging talents of the newer generation eagerly experimenting with this form.
Though there are recognized masters of short stories in Romania (such as Adriana Bittel or Răzvan Petrescu), there may be less interest in flash fiction. The participation of renowned authors and promising newcomers fuel our optimism for the future, as we anticipate the emergence of well-established writers dedicated to this art.
The Laconic platform aims to revitalize interest in contemporary Romanian literature by promoting the flash fiction format.