"Radovan’s debut family memoir explores intergenerational trauma against the backdrop of postwar Romania. . .Using diary entries, poems, photographs, and essays, the author cobbles together a family history out of fragments, effectively reflecting the shattered nature of lives under and after authoritarianism. . .Radovan’s writing has a lyrical quality throughout, whether it takes the form of poetry or prose, offering readers an incantatory blend of the remembered, the overheard, and the imagined. . .A chimeric remembrance that delves into the legacy of Romania’s troubled past." - Kirkus Reviews
"Our Voices is a work of non-fiction in the memoir subgenre. It is aimed at mature readers and was penned by author Diana Radovan. The book follows the author's experiences as an immigrant, surviving the crushing pressures of expectations from society, and living with intergenerational trauma. By moving through the different stories, trains of thought, and even writing styles, the book paints a mosaic of the author's life as fragmented and often confusing as a lived life usually is. With a focus on the hope that the difficulties of the previous generation can avoid being inherited, the book tells a powerful story about a life filled with challenges.
This was a simply beautiful reflection on the ups and downs of an eventful life, told through a medley of techniques and styles that each feel disparate at first but soon start coming together to form the picture of a long and emotional journey. Author Diana Radovan’s experiences are laid bare for readers with a candid openness that made me feel as if I was sitting with a dear friend discussing their life over a warm drink, the wider world put to one side as she shared her hard-fought wisdom and insight. There is a messiness to even the most orderly of lives, and I’ve never read a memoir that embraces this messiness whilst producing such exquisite meaning from it as Our Voices. I am sincerely grateful to the author not just for sharing her life with me as a reader but for the wonderful literary gift she uses to bring her story into focus for a stranger." - K.C. Finn for Readers' Favourite, 5-star review
"A book that paves a new path for hybrid memoirs that can tell complex stories. Diana Radovan’s Our Voices shows us how." - Loretta
"I'm only 10% of the way through your book so far, but that is because it is extraordinary. Powerful. Educational. I'm savouring it. 'tidy narratives repeatedly refused to fit my story.' YES!" - Rachel
"This book had such an incredible impact on me. With stunning and immersive prose and poetry, I was steeped in emotion. I learned things about myself through the eyes and words of the author. I connected on a deep level with a story that is not my own but that resonates. I am so overcome by feeling, having just now closed the book, and will be thinking of this story for weeks to come."
"The impulse to write memoir is almost always deeply personal, the urge to express experience as only that particular author can. Diana’s book Our Voices uses a child’s point of view at the start to express the extreme political events she witnessed growing up in Timișoara, Romania, behind the so-called Iron Curtain. Innocence gives way to experience as the child grows to understand three generations of her family’s story in the context of larger history, while pursuing advanced degrees in other countries and traveling the world. As Diana has navigated the repercussions of “being from” that “other” (Eastern) Europe, she has taken on the task of giving voice to the reality. It is the writing itself that engages the reader, offering a poetic lyricism to the places and events she describes. Adventurous in spirit, a nature lover, a city wanderer, a photographer, and a bright mind, Diana’s outlook is truly international. In these times especially, her story, her many stories, need to be written and heard."
- Marianne Rogoff, author of Silvie’s Life and Pushcart Prize nominee
"Our Voices by Diana Radovan is a heart wrenching memoir about the stories of our ancestors and how they can help us to discover our life story. Exploring identity, memory, and nature, Radovan's message is about freedom and the limitless opportunities that arise when one allows space for the heart to speak. The voice of the heart is healing, it holds memories and dreams that have been sculpted by painful experiences, but in order to keep writing our story, those memories and dreams need to be released through personal will, choice, and freedom.
The uniqueness of this book made it more personal than other memoirs I have read. It's a collection of thoughts, diaries, and poems that are out of chronological order yet still tell a coherent story, layered with bits of mythology and lyricism. The themes are poignant and highly relevant, with liminal messages that will reach those beyond time and place. I think above all else it is a personal healing manifesto that gives voices to the familial, political, and social traumas and releases them into nature where they can be healed and released. I connected to Diana Radovan's voice and her hybrid writing style and I think she has potential to write a magical realism novel about her experiences...something in the vein of Isabel Allende.
Regenerative and inspiring."
- Tanja F. on Netgalley
"I love you, but I can no longer prove it.
This is a delicate and gorgeous memoir that is it's own universe. Family, intergenerational trauma, breaking the chain, living history, nature. Creativity. Self-examination and growth. The structure of the book itself is like a wild garden--not always manicured, trails leading to places and double-backing. A stop at a poem, like a little pool. A photo; earth-toned, giving form and weight. Like a stone. It is ultimately, an experience of life. But there is also a solemnity to reading it, that is not unfamiliar to the feeling when walking through a graveyard. Behind the hushed beauty of stones and angels are entire stories and lives. You must tread carefully and with respect.
A true hybrid memoir: with photos, poetry and prose (most of it hers, some of it, the words of her family), Radovan outlines the experience of growing up in communist Romania--the effect the regime had personally, on her family. The mental stress that was very likely the trigger for pushing her own mother into a psychic darkness she could never walk back out of. Her own battles with trying to balance the needs of her parents and needing to 'not be anyone's mother.' If you are a kid of a parent who struggled with mental health and you remember that darkness affecting you, before you could voice what it was.... ...If you are a parent, who feels your own darkness affecting your child, and cannot help but sink into the guilt of having brought a person on this Earth, of replicating your own chaotic genes, this will hit you hard.
Radovan says (paraphrase) that family cycles continue until someone breaks the chain. So many times, it seems we live life unable to examine it real-time, only looking back once irreversible decisions have been made. Realising too late we've fulfilled our own curse. But what if you could examine? Is writing and creativity a way for us to actually rewrite our life? Could it be?
But oh, this book brought up so many topics that are dear to me (including feminism, how do we balance our creativity // work // family, the effect of chronic health issues can have over the years--and never being able to go back home again.
Your life doesn't interest me at all,
just show me your papers.
Ohh, the chronic foreigners felt that punch. Deep in the gut.
How many punches can you take? How many falls?
Radovan shows us, when you're a writer, you have infinite lives.
I reached the end of Our Voices with a feeling of peace and a sense of inspiration and admiration for the power of creativity to keep us going. There was so much relatability in these pages: as a person, a partner, a family member, a writer. A lifelong struggler. This is a book that is unapologetically only about itself, letting us readers (and writers and creatives and citizens) know that it is all right sometimes to prioritize our own voice. It is sometimes the only thing that will carry us through to another day."
"Diana's book Our Voices is absolutely engaging! Her lyrical writing style, along with the poetry that she sprinkles throughout the book, is a veritable feast for anyone who loves language. She skilfully writes about the struggles of three generations impacted by political winds beyond their control which, sadly, are still relevant today. The protagonist's remarkable resilience kept me turning pages to the very end!" - Esther Auerbach on Goodreads
"My daughter, who is now 10 years old, read the beginning and said: 'I’m like your friend, mummy. A little girl who loves books and I want to be a writer.' The way you write , it’s amazing. It’s like I can see everything you say." - Ada
“I LOVE THIS BOOK!!!! Your work puts me back into the mind of a child, the innocence, the not knowing, the figuring out of the world of adults, especially what a funeral is! Thank you.” - Patricia
"I just finished reading Our Voices. It’s an exceptional and interesting book. It is so intriguing that I read through it in one day. Congratulations on your courageous and creative structure. You were able to include multi-generations in a unique way. The voices of your family have been heard. Thank you for sharing this book with the world." - Loretta
"I finished your book this morning, I really enjoyed it, you’re a beautiful writer. I found it really compelling, I read it in like 2 days. The ways it’s written just made me want to keep reading." - Emma
"Our Voices is such a beautiful book!" - Beth
"Diana! Right away I need to tell you something! I love the present tense in your book!!! Just got the book today. Thank you for sharing, thank you so much for using words the way you do. Believe or not, when I read the book I always think I'm having a conversation with you. I just sat out on the balcony and browsed your book for over an hour. Thank you for that 'conversation'." - Reija
"I finished your book last night and absolutely loved it! Your beautiful, lyrical writing was a veritable feast. The fact that I could relate to it as an immigrant to the U.S. and living away from my parents from age 16 made it even more special. I loved your honesty and the humanity with which you take your reader along your journey. I feel fortunate to “know” you from our zoom group and hope to meet you in person some day. You truly are a resilient, remarkable person! This book is so relatable and so timely, especially the political background. I started writing down quotes that I find inspiring. I love this book. It does not read like a book. I bought the ebook initially but now I would like to buy the paperback too, which is what I do with books I want to keep and reread." - Esther
See further reviews on the book's page on Goodreads.
Book Launch and IWD 2022 Event Feedback
The virtual book launch on March 1st brought together a large number of open-minded fellow readers and writers from multiple countries and time zones: Romania, Germany, Canada (the three countries where I have lived so far), Italy, Iceland, Iran, India, the UK, the US, and Australia. In addition, I did an in-person launch in my home town Timișoara in Romania on April 12th, with a wonderful presentation by the talented author and photographer Claudia Tănăsescu. Below is a selection of what the launch participants said during and right after the events. In conjunction with the virtual launch, I developed the following slide deck, which provides the personal and historical context of the book.
Here is also an excerpt from Claudia Tănăsescu's speech and her subsequent review on Goodreads:
"M-am bucurat sa particip la lansarea cartii Dianei Radovan la Timisoara, orasul ei natal (si al meu). Cartea e minunat scrisa, as putea zice ca Diana are un stil al ei reconoscibil. Sunt mai multe voci care se fac auzite in acest roman: a bunicului, mamei si a autoarei insasi, ca si copil, adolescenta si femeie in devenire, cu insertii de poezie, basm, bucati dure dar si foarte lirice, fotografii de familie si din natura mult iubita, unde ea isi gaseste linistea.
Citind cartea Dianei am simtit ca-mi recuperez si eu amintirile din copilarie, scrisul ei fiind foarte senzorial si plin de detalii. De fapt, cred ca a dat glas unor experiente comune generatiei noastre din Romania: copilaria in comunism, revolutia care a rasturnat toata lumea noastra, plecarea in strainatate, intampinarea prejudecatilor fata de romani, incercarea de a-ti gasi o identitate dincolo.
Am simtit in cartea Dianei ca si-a pus sufletul in fiecare pagina, ceva ce intalnesc destul de rar in literatura. Am gasit o voce autentica, puternica, vulnerabila in acelasi timp, care a trecut prin focul suferintei si a supravietuit, dar si mai mult, a reusit sa integreze si sa transceada aceasta suferinta si sa ne lase noua cititorilor o poveste cu sens, o poveste frumoasa.
Lumea Dianei s-a prabusit si fracturat de mai multe ori: revolutia, boala mamei ei, plecarea in strainatate, schimbarea de orase si tari, iubirile neimplinite. Sunt ca niste bucatele de sticla pe care Diana le foloseste intr-un caleidoscop literar, creand imagini pline de armonie si sens (foarte inspirata descrierea romanului drept caleidoscopic).
Diana isi descopera si isi construieste identitatea in acelasi timp. Noi nu venim de nicaieri, nu ne inventam din gol, nu putem fi orice. Astfel, a recupera, a cunoaste, a privi in fata si a intelege istoria personala, istoria propriei familii, dar si a tarii si a o integra in viata noastra e un act de sanatate, de maturitate, dar si de dreptate. Asta face Diana in cartea ei. Ea da glas nu doar povestii ei, dar si a mamei si a bunicului ei, face auzite vocile lor (cartea nu degeaba se cheama Our Voices), care au fost reduse la tacere de un sistem opresiv, de o boala, de moarte prematura, de nedreptate. Iar tacerea aceasta este un ciclu al traumei si suferintei, pana cand vine cineva si opreste acest ciclu al perpetuarii. Iar Diana reuseste asta, dovedind puterea vindecatoare a scrisului si a unei povesti cu sens.
Comunismul ne-a lasat cu o trauma colectiva, a unui popor, de care inca suferim si incercam sa ne vindecam. Si de aceea avem nevoie de astfel de carti care spun adevarul. Vindecarea incepe cu aducerea la lumina a acestor povesti si cu o vindecare individuala, om cu om – cred ca acesta e si unul din mesajele importante ale cartii Dianei."
“Diana, your book is breathtaking! Very, very brave to write so up-close and personal! So many taboos swept out with one crafty literary broom. Bravo!”
“Stunning, lots of memories coming up! It's amazing how you've carried with you all these memories and love the child perspective! Congratulations. Also, the idea of the self as neverending potentiality - love this!” - Luiza
“Wonderful reading. I like your non-structure concept.” - Loretta
“I have chills. Stunning! So far page 57 is my favourite. But I can't put it down. Diana, it's stunning! And the paragraph on 76 about being a mixture of things. Holy cow.”
“Brava! Chills.” - Joy
“So interesting!” - Sif
“Shocking that these stories should be so timely now.” - Marianne
“Beautiful prose, Diana, and so very relatable for me, as a Romanian, as a child growing up during the downfall of the communist regime, but I think that also for others who maybe identify with the emotions if not with the political and geographical context.” - Oana
“Goosebumps!” - Lieke
“Wise words” - Karen
“The tone and language that you chose to relate your tale is perfect. I feel your naivety and eventual disillusion. I'm so looking forward to reading your memoir! I'm loving your book! I'm loving the reflections on moving away from home but life still going on in parallel and getting disconnected from home.” - Christina
“Thanks a lot for sharing this personal story.” - Manfred
“Thank you, Diana! Just like when you read in Portugal, the strength and authenticity of your voice shines through!” - Vicki
“I remember the events very well - seen from Germany - and it is eye-opening to hear about the reality on the ground. Congratulations, Diana!” - Brenda
“This has been amazing, Diana. Thank you so much, and congratulations on the book!” - Rita
“Love your writing and story!” - Beth
“Diana, I am so happy for you and have loved reading your memoir over the last week. How eye opening to hear you speak and also hear your reading in your own voice.” - Jessica
“A fost foarte faină prezentarea și m-ai surprins și cu prezentarea din email.” - Manuela
"Danke nochmal für die Einladung zu Deiner Buchvorstellung. Ich finde es sehr bereichernd für die Welt, dass Du als Insider über die Situation während des Kommunismus in Rumänien erzählst. Es ist schwer vorzustellen wie es gewesen sein muss, aber Du machst es lebendig. Mir gefällt besonders die Wahrnehmung aus der Sicht des Kindes. Vielen, vielen Dank für Dein Buch." - Manfred
"I read your memoir last week, and it’s a beautiful, lyrical account of your life that took my breath away at times. I also see myself so much in your writing…the longing, the lust, the lost voices, the ancestral traumas, the motherhood dreams." - Tammy
“It's been weeks since I finished reading Our Voices, but the feelings evoked by Diana Radovan's words still haunt me, appearing to me unexpectedly as I go about my day. Her experience of being an immigrant, of being a woman tormented by societal and familial pressures, and her ever-present search for love resonate deeply. Her conflicting emotions of love, obligation, and frustration regarding her parents are not something that I have personally experienced, but I feel the truth in her words and believe that anyone who has had a parent ravaged by psychological trauma would find comfort in Diana's words. I found the experimental structure suited her writing style well, a weaker author would not have been able to pull this off.” - Christina on Amazon
“Congratulations on your book, which has clearly had an impact for you and your readers and it was wonderful to hear the discussions about its genesis and journey. It was really good to hear you speak your work.” - Brooke
“Diana, amazing! I mean it really! Congratulations! You can be proud of yourself.” - Claudia
“Diana Radovan reading from her 7-year-old journal, when she was living in Timișoara, the city where the Romanian revolution started, was so authentic and struck so many emotional memories for all of us... This performance gave me goosebumps after goosebumps, she is an absolutely talented writer and performing artist!” - Andreea
"I could relate to a lot of what you wrote although we grew up in different parts of the world. But when people who grew up in similar circumstances spoke, it was almost heartbreaking. Especially in the context of Ukraine." - Sruthy
"We grew up in different times and places and have different life experiences. And yet, when I read Our Voices, there are some chapters where the writing is so intimate and the writing so clear, that I ask myself: how can the author know me so well?" - Nutan
"E minunat ce ai reușit cu Our Voices! Sunt miratã de cât de puțin se vorbește despre subiectele astea la noi." - Miruna
"E minunat și cât de temeinic a abordat Diana subiectul comunismului si al traumei colective și intergeneraționale." - Anca
"Diana scrie foarte frumos." - Ana
"Diana scrie bine." - Bogdan
"Cred că avem nevoie de mai multe astfel de cărți, care prezintă viață în străinătate într-un mod neromanțat și ne arată și greutățile." - Manuela