The works in this special issue of the Review of Contemporary Fiction were selected and translated by the Guest Editor, Alistair Ian Blyth.
A Brief History of Moldova
Moldova is the Romanian name for the historical Principality of Moldavia, which was founded in the fourteenth century. The principality stretched from the Carpathians in the west to the River Dniester in the east. The present-day Republic of Moldova is that province of Moldavia which lies between the River Prut in the west and the River Dniester in the east. The province was known as Bessarabia, after the Basarab princes of neighbouring Wallachia, a dynasty believed, perhaps erroneously, to have ruled the southern part of the region in the fourteenth century.
After a long struggle against the Turks, Moldavia came under Ottoman suzerainty in the first half of the sixteenth century In the eighteenth century, Moldavia's rulers were appointed directly by the Ottoman Porte from among the prominent Greek families of Constantinople's Phanar quarter. In the aftermath of the Russo-Turkish War of 1806-12, Imperial Russia annexed the Moldavian province of Bessarabia, which became an oblast and later a guberniya. Between 1820 and 1823, Pushkin was exiled to Chisinau (or Kishinev, as it is called in Russian), the administrative seat of what was, to the Russians, a far-flung and rather exotic outpost of empire.
West of the Prut, the Principality of Moldavia united with Wallachia in 1859, and the United Principalities finally gained complete independence from the Ottoman Empire after the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78, becoming the Kingdom of Romania. With the Russian Empire engulfed in civil war after the 1917 Revolution, the Kingdom of Romania unified with the majority Romanian-speaking Bessarabia, as well as with the former Austro-Hungarian provinces of Transylvania and Bukovina, to form Greater Romania, officially proclaimed in the Great Union of 1 December 1918.
However, the Soviet Union refused to recognise the incorporation of Bessarabia into Greater Romania and in 1924 established the rival Moldavian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (A.S.S.R.) in a territory of the Ukraine lying on the east bank of the Dniester, an area with a Romanian-speaking minority. The Moldavian A.S.S.R. was intended to serve as a base for spreading the Bolshevik revolution to neighbouring Bessarabia and ultimately the whole of Greater Romania.
In 1940 the Red Army occupied Bessarabia and northern Bukovina, acting in accordance with a secret clause of the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact. Bessarabia became the Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic (S.S.R.), incorporating the Moldavian A.S.S.R. east of the Dniester. Having allied itself with Nazi Germany, Romania took back Bessarabia in 1941, exterminating hundreds of thousands of Jews in the process and setting up concentration camps in the territory of the former Moldavian A.S.S.R., a region also known as Transnistria. In 1944, the Red Army reinvaded Bessarabia, reestablishing the Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic.
During the first Soviet occupation of 1940-41 and again after Bessarabia was recaptured in 1944, tens of thousands of Moldavians were deported to Siberia: members of democratic political parties, intellectuals, priests, prosperous peasants...