Sal, the protagonist of 'Sun Alley', is an exceptionally intelligent twelve-year-old boy, experiencing his first love. One summer afternoon, on his way to see his girlfriend Emi, he is caught in a rain shower and shelters in the hallway of a block of flats. Led by a strong odour, he goes down into the basement, where he comes upon the corpse of a young and very beautiful woman. Little by little, Sal will attempt to discover the mystery of this body and, at the same time, will pursue his amorous relationship with Emi; a strange liaison which unfolds in parallel with the adulterous affair of an adult couple whose path Sal repeatedly crosses.
As his love story with Emi evolves, Sal tries his best to hide it, not only from the cynical eyes of his friends in the neighbourhood, but also from his parents – whose intervention might well shatter his bliss – thereby developing a veritably adulterous mindset. The connections between adults and the two children, on the one hand, and the dead body discovered by Sal on the other, are far deeper and more complicated than they may at first seem. Sun Alley is a novel about the roots of adultery and the destiny of an exceptional young boy who, thanks to his gifts, has the power to see visions.
'One of the most compelling aspects of Stefanescu's novel is its systematic undermining of temporal linearity.'
''...an ambitious, at times remarkable book...'
Costica Bradatan, Times Literary Supplement
''Obsessive love and the desire for freedom....Sun Alley is a splendidly subtle piece of writing dissecting various forms of manipulations the characters resort to in order to preserve their relationships, whether as children or adults.''
A. M. Bakalar. B O D Y Literature, Friday Pick
''More than a retelling of Romeo and Juliet, though, Sun Alley allows the characters to grow up. In fact, what I enjoyed most about this book was the split in time. Just as we are preparing to find out what happens when Sal and Emi prepare to run away from Sun Alley together....Their childhood separation is alluded to over and over as the chapters flash back and forward in time which creates a delicious tension .... The wonderful structure conceals as much as it reveals and I started to think about how our shifting memories betray us over time.''
Exploring Sun Alley with Cecilia Ştefănescu
September 8, 2013 - Isla McKetta, MFA
Interview with Cecilia Ştefănescu at The Franco-Irish Literary Festival
Sun Alley by Cecilia Ştefănescu
Translated by Alexandra Coliban & Andreea Höfer
Istros Books 2013
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