At the center of The Hooligan's Return is the author himself, always an outcast, on a bleak lifelong journey through Nazism and communism to exile in America. But while Norman Manea's book is in many ways a memoir, it is also a deeply imaginative work, traversing time and place, life and literature, dream and reality, past and present. Autobiographical events merge with historic elements, always connecting the individual with the collective destiny. Manea speaks of the bloodiest time of the 20th century and of the emergence afterward of a global, competitive, and sometimes cynical modern society.
Both a harrowing memoir and an ambitious epic project, The Hooligan's Return achieves a subtle internal harmony as anxiety evolves into a delicate irony and a burlesque fantasy. Beautifully written and brilliantly conceived, this is the work of a writer with an acute understanding of the vast human potential for both evil and kindness, obedience and integrity.