Monday, September 6, 2021

Romanian Crime Fiction – It’s All About Resilience

Annamaria Introducing Bogdan Hrib


 Disclosure: Bogdan is a novelist, but he is also a publisher, and earlier this year, his company, Tritonic published Strange Gods, the first of my Africa series in Romanian.

He needs no introduction to some of our MIE clan.  We all met up a few years ago at the second biennial Icelandic Noir conference.

Bogdan was born in Bucharest, Romania in 1966. 

A former journalist, a civil engineer by education and now a professor at a university in Bucharest, he is the co-founder of Tritonic Books (1993) and has been instrumental in bringing other Romanian crime writers to English publication.

His crime fiction series features Stelian Munteanu, a book-editor with a sideline doing international police work. Kill the General and The Greek Connection from his Munteanu series have also been translated into English. His story "A Bucharest Arrest" appeared in the March-April 2021 edition of  Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine.

His latest novel, Resilience the sixth of the Munteanu series is being published in English this month.

Here is Bogdan's description of the evolution of crime fiction in Romania.

Why do I write crime fiction? Because I enjoy reading it. That would be the simplest, most correct answer. As a teenager, I was lucky enough to enjoy the stories of Edgar Allan Poe and Agatha Christie, or Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett, because the authoritarian Communist state that I grew up in wanted to demonstrate just how unequal and discriminatory the capitalist system was, that it was just about ready to topple off the cliff. Meanwhile, the Romanian crime novels showed heroic, perfect, intelligent ‘militias’ (the word for police at the time), who were devoted to the cause and always managed to get the better of the foreign spies. They were often badly written and followed party political lines. Later on, the censorship got a little lax, which meant some more complex and realistic characters could emerge, such as a Miss Marple type or a nosy journalist.

After 1989, we were all eagerly waiting for that notorious ‘literature for the drawer’ to emerge, the kind of literature that could not be published before. Well-written investigations, realistic characters, the stories that were more than just black-and-white. A few such tales did crop up, but relatively seldom. It seemed that the new generation of Romanian authors was not keen to write in this genre. Meanwhile, the publishers flooded the market with translations, to make up for fifty years of censorship. I kept hoping for native talent to emerge, but all in vain.

So I got the idea to introduce a Crime Scene imprint at my publishing house Tritonic: an opportunity to publish both foreign authors and Romanian ones. But where to find the latter? The last author of the pre-1989 generation, George Arion, had launched his own publishing house. I decided to practise what I preached and started writing myself. In 2006 I published my first book The Greek Connection, introducing the main character, Stelian Munteanu, a journalist, good at problem-solving, and, above all, a man with many friends. Gradually, I managed to convince Romanian authors to turn to crime fiction as well – and I’m pleased to say that they are starting to get published in English too, thanks to my UK publisher, Corylus Books.

Since that time, I’ve published several more books in the Stelian Munteanu series, of which two others have been translated into English: Kill the General (Profusion Crime, UK, 2011) and The Greek Connection (Mosaic Press, Canada, 2015). And then came Resilience

This novel was written in 2019/20 and was launched in Bucharest at a time of full lockdown (May 2020). It was an unusual and frustrating experience: no readings, no meetings in bookshops or cafés, no book signings… But, just like the title indicates, Resilience is all about adapting and surviving.  One might say that survival is the key philosophy in our geographical region: we’ve survived empires invading, dictators rising and falling, and so much more. In my novel I try to show this cultural clash between Western Europe and the Balkans, a place where passions run high, resentments are buried deep, and where banal events are often more important than the extraordinary ones.

My cast of characters is quite international: Stelian the fixer, his friend Tony the policeman, his young sidekick Anabella, as well as a British detective and a journalist all investigate the suspicious death of the daughter of a wealthy Romanian businessman. But the police procedural soon becomes a geopolitical thriller because nothing is quite what it seems. Fake news galore, nationalism on the rise, and a lot of strange characters with vested interests, including Poles, Russians, Greek-Americans and more… there, I hope I’ve whetted your appetite.

I should also tell you what an adventure it has been with Corylus Books – because we are quite an international cast of characters as well. The seed of an idea was planted a few years ago, chatting over late-night drinks in the bar of a hotel in a small Transylvanian town. I was having a conversation with a good friend of mine from Britain, crime author and translator Quentin Bates, but it seemed too far-fetched to be possible. A couple of years later, we managed to convince two other people to come onboard: Dr Noir Jacky Collins, university lecturer, translator and promoter of mystery and thriller literature, and Marina Sofia, reviewer and translator from Romanian. We set out full of optimism, but our launch coincided with the Covid pandemic in 2020. Nevertheless, we managed to survive, and have published seven books so far, translating authors from Romania, Iceland, France and soon… a new country. To be continued, as they say.

You can learn more about Bogdan and his work here and find your copy of Resilience here.



  1. welcome, Bogdan. Welcome to MIE!

  2. Replies
    1. Thanks...
      More here

      The UK link is –

      And the US link is –

  3. Bogdan, you are resilience personified in every way! A few years back I participated in the Tinos International Literary Festival, where I had the great pleasure of meeting several Romanian poets. Each young, enthusiastic and hard working! That seems to be a trait common to your nation's literary community. And for you, coupled with three of my other favorite people (Quentin, Jacky and Marina), I foresee grand success for Corylus Books. Congratulations!

    1. Thank you very much.
      One day we all have a great meeting for a Crime Festival in Mykonos... or Skyatos... or Athens... or Bucharest Long live BalkaNoir! :)

    2. I love the idea, and count me in, Bogdan, regardless of the venue(s). :)