Interviews Domnica Radulescu
Interviewed for Contemporary Women’s Writing Magazine
by MARIA-SABINA DRAGA ALEXANDRU
Domnica Radulescu is an accomplished playwright, theater director, and novelist. A distinguished academic in the field of Romance Languages and Literatures, she has always wanted to be a writer but started publishing her fiction only when she felt her voice was ready to reach an audience. Radulescu settled in the United States in 1983 as a political refugee from what was then Communist Romania. Her writing, rich in autobiographical touches, is also full of precise references to Romania’s destiny and the immigrant’s predicament, requesting, in some ways a reevaluation – from a post-Communist East-European perspective – of what was in the postcolonial discourse the debate over individual story as national allegory raised by Fredric Jameson’s article on third-world literature (69). To what extent it is fair to say that, to paraphrase Jameson, all post-Communist East-European narratives are allegories of the bigger picture is a matter open to debate. However, Radulescu’s debut novel, Train to Trieste (2008), arguably the first Romanian American exile story of success, claims the American dream for an immigrant community whose diasporic culture is finally taking shape after decades of dealing with Communist trauma: the Romanian one. Considering its immediate audience success, acknowledged by its reception of the 2009 Library of Virginia fiction award and its being translated into thirteen languages so far, Train to Trieste makes an important contribution to the Romanian presence in the space of ethnic US literature.
Radulescu’s deeply personal, original voice springs from her own story of personal relocation, as well as from the intermingling of her career as an academic with her creative writing as a novelist and as a playwright. Her discourse is often hybrid, mixing creative imagination with a solid, academia-informed erudition. She holds a PhD in French and Italian Literature (University of Chicago, 1992) and has been teaching this literature, as well as Women’s and Gender Studies and Drama, at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia, where she is currently the Edwin A. Morris Professor of French and Italian. She is cofounding chair of the Women’s and Gender Studies program at Washington and Lee University, and in 1994 she founded the National Symposium of Theater in Academe, which she directs.
As acknowledged on the website of the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia on her receiving an Outstanding Faculty Award, Domnica Radulescu has authored, edited, or coedited nine scholarly books and collections of essays on modern French and Italian theater, representations of women, exiles, and Gypsies in Western literature and culture. Some of her published volumes are Women’s Comedic Art as Social Revolution (2011), Gypsies in European Literature and Culture (coedited with Valentina Glajar ), Vampirettes, Wretches and Amazons (coedited with Valentina Glajar ), The Theater of Teaching and the Lessons of Theater (2005), and Realms of Exile (2002). Her latest authored book on theater is entitled Theater of War and Exile (2015).
The two components of Radulescu’s creative activity, fiction and drama, often borrow from each other. Her theater work contains stories that the characters tell in the form of monologues, as, for example, in Exile Is My Home (2015). Her fiction bears the imprint of her theater work, as one can see in the exquisite construction of dialogues and interior monologues in her novels. This particular feature is highly appropriate in narratives of exile, which, as a general human experience, is very much about performing oneself in a different language, country, and culture. In Black Sea Twilight (2010), Nora Teodoru literally performs her ethnicity (she pretends she is Turkish or a Gypsy when she has to defend her precarious position as a Romanian in France). In Country of Red Azaleas (2016), cinema, which is always in the background, seems to act as a constant reminder that, even when we are confronted with history in the harshest of ways, life is, importantly, a matter of performance.
Radulescu’s academic work and her creative writing are in a complex dialogue, the more so as the latter is backed up by research at least as substantial as the one that goes into her academic writing. Her second novel, Black Sea Twilight, for example, a complex study of the many factors that go into the shaping of female identities, is a novel with a three-section bibliography (“History and Culture,” “Art and Art History,” and “Psychology and Philosophy”). It provides a solid theoretical background into the shaping of the protagonist’s personality as a visual artist coming from a troubled family and political background and defining herself in her relationships with her twin brother and her female friends. Friendships between women, with their rewards and difficulties, play an important part in Radulescu’s fiction, from Mona Manoliu’s finding support as a new immigrant in Marta, a Mexican woman with whom she finds she has a lot in common (Train to Trieste), to Nora in Black Sea Twilight, who defines her emerging personality as a painter in relation to a whole series of female friends. Marita, Anushka, Agadira, and Didona all contribute to Nora’s healing her relationship with her mother, damaged by the personal effect of the political realities in Communist Romania. The best example, however, is Radulescu’s latest novel, Country of Red Azaleas, where the warm, total, lifelong commitment between Lara and Marija, which transgresses all limitations, is the only way to overcome both personal and postwar trauma.
In Radulescu’s fiction, exploring the complexity of female characters is a priority. In an interview given to the Washington and Lee University review Shenandoah, Radulescu talks about her project to create “strong female protagonists that own their destinies, tell their own stories, and have strong and memorable voices” (“Domnica Radulescu, Novelist, Scholar, Teacher”). This description certainly matches her readers’ perceptions of her heroines. Women are invested with powerful voices as first-person-singular narrators. They display the strength and growing maturity of those who dare reinvent themselves in new circumstances and start afresh with self-confidence and trust, as the author herself did within her own spectacular and eventful migration journey (“Domnica Rădulescu intervievată” 228–29). If Mona in Train to Trieste is a passionate, determined migrant who lays a strong claim to owning the American dream, Nora in Black Sea Twilight combines the escape journey with a highly aestheticized quest for female identity as she gradually defines her personality as an artist. If Mona is an embodiment of the American dream success-story heroine, who learns to own her destiny through symbolically writing it as she becomes a literature professor and finds her home in America, Nora is a painter who perceives the world in images and whose journey to Paris is not that of an immigrant, but that of a student and, further, of a traveler always in search of knowledge-enhancing relocations. Both are strong, capable, empowered Romanian women, who escape the political manacles of Communist Romania solely through personal effort and achieve personal and professional fulfillment in the countries of their dreams, also managing to reconcile themselves with the yet unanswered issues of their past. Nomadic identity models such as Gypsies play a very important part in Black Sea Twilight, and this is one of the topics with respect to which Radulescu uses a bibliography (Isabel Fonseca’s book on Gypsies and the collection which Radulescu coedited with Valentina Glajar, Gypsies in European Literature). These models become even more complex when related to Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari’s distinction in A Thousand Plateaus between migrants and nomads, who mark different perceptions of relocation. Whereas migrants move from one point to another, nomads explore the trajectory rather than the fixed points on it. In Radulescu’s fiction, this distinction is relevant in the case of female characters, who seem to develop an increasingly nomadic attitude as they search for freedom from all boundaries, including geographical ones.
As feminist literature repeatedly shows, female friendships, mother-daughter relationships, and generally female bonding, as it reflects on the transmitted affective history of the group (be it ethnic, religious, or otherwise), on the personal level epitomize inter-human bonding on a wider scale (see classics of feminism and trauma studies such as Marianne Hirsch or Cathy Caruth, but also studies on intimacy and mother-daughter relationships or conflicts such as Lauren Berlant, Silvia Schultermandl, and Ioana Luca). When women share similar traumatic backgrounds, their capacity for empathy when it comes to the intimacy of emotional experience is increased, making the processing and reparation of group trauma possible. In Black Sea Twilight, personal emotional trauma interacts with dislocation trauma as a fundament to such rescuing female friendships, with women who have gone through different yet compatible experiences supporting each other in situations of incredible personal difficulty. Radulescu’s third novel, Country of Red Azaleas, can be read as a study in how far such compatibility can go when personal emotional and dislocation trauma is compared with war trauma caused by violence against women and rape. In the novel – about two women’s different stories of relocation to the USA at the time of and following the Bosnian war of the 1990’s – female bonding can be a redemptive version of critically damaged inter-ethnic relations. The author pleads for overcoming personal and collective trauma through friendship of a depth that transcends all boundaries, inhabiting a transnational world that could only have America as a model and location but at the same time could only exist in the global environment of the new millennium.
If Radulescu’s first two novels are dedicated to Romanian exile stories, Country of Red Azaleas moves the focus onto the devastating civil war in former Yugoslavia, which, through its well-known episodes of extreme violence against women, offers the author valuable narrative possibilities to explore female individual strength and the regenerative power of friendships between women in extreme life situations. The two characters, Lara and Marija, are inseparable childhood and adolescence friends, whose lives tear them apart, only for them to be reunited in California in an apotheotic chapter with unmissable cinematic references, as its title announces, “We’ll always have Hollywood.” The novel broadens up the perspective from the Romanian Communist and post-Communist predicament to a vaster East-European one, thus also making the transition toward a more universal women’s experience. On the vast stage of transnational women’s writing, Radulescu’s fiction explores the multiple dimensions of female becoming across geographical, temporal, and political borders. Apart from being shaped at the interface of several languages and cultures, of academic and creative writing discourse, her fiction writing benefits from a rich dialogue with her activity as a playwright and theater director. Her plays, some of which have received awards under the Jane Chambers competition (The Town with Very Nice People  and Exile Is My Home ) explore similar topics related to women’s voice and empowerment, even though the rhythm is often more alert than in the novels, and the departure from realism and structural control is more pronounced. However, the well-told narrative frames of the plays and the alert, lively dialogues that animate the novels demonstrate a strong interconnectedness between all of the segments of Radulescu’s work.
MSDA : In the making of your female protagonists, how much is a conscious construction corresponding to your feminist beliefs, and how much is autobiographical?
Domnica Radulescu : The creation of strong, independent female protagonists is equally a conscious choice and a visceral instinctive drive. While I don’t intend to write my novels or plays as feminist manifestos, I make certain aesthetic and creative choices in crafting the kind of female characters that make sense to me and that I like to see in the real world or in the imagined worlds of artistic creation. Equally so, when creating my female characters and crafting the stories I want to tell, when giving voice to my fictional sisters, daughters, mothers, friends, it comes naturally and organically to me that I should delineate and conceive them as empowered and bold individuals. In other words I can’t do otherwise. So I would say this is a drive that goes beyond the dimension of what is conventionally thought of as autobiographical. Whether I have lived or not some, all, or none of the experiences that my heroines go through, they emerge from my creative imagination as gutsy, passionate, and fierce female figures. Sometimes even more so than I may be myself. Through my heroines I am building my own feminist humanist utopias.
MSDA : Are there writers you look up to, who inspire your writing?
Domnica Radulescu : Absolutely, I have my own literary mentors and models. The French writer Marguerite Duras is one of my most inspiring literary figures particularly with regards to the brilliant sensuality and sharpness of her style, in which every word has its place and nothing is amiss, too much or too little. I admire Albert Camus for the clarity and precision of his style, and women Latin American writers such as Sandra Cisneros, Julia Alvarez, or Isabel Allende for their impeccable storytelling craft, the richness and colorfulness of their style, and their great sense of humor and irony, and of course for always creating fascinating female characters with strong voices.
MSDA : Your first two novels are written in the present tense, while the third novel is in the past tense. Why?
Domnica Radulescu : The first-person present-tense narrative conveys a sense of urgency in telling the story, a certain immediacy and closeness to the protagonists and action in an almost cinematographic manner, which is how I conceived and experienced the stories of my first two novels. Also the stories of my first novels take place in a more remote past than that of Country of Red Azaleas, and in fact to me the relation between the narrative time and the chronological time of the action in the book is a reversed one. I felt that the stories that are farther in time can and need to be told in a more immediate manner because enough time has passed for a certain distance between the narrator and her action to have been created, whereas the stories that are closer to our own time need a certain distance in order to be perceived with more clarity and processed in a meaningful way. Bertolt Brecht made a brilliant point when talking about epic theater and about art/theater that tackles difficult political and historical events. He said that for an audience to be able to process events that are very close to them or are even happening in their own time, as World War II was happening at the time when he was writing some of his major works, the author needs to establish a temporal distance if she/he is tackling those events in her/his art, so that the audience can be receptive and process them in a transformative manner and not tune out and be either too traumatized or too involved in that which is happening to them right here right now and therefore unable to have a critical look at their own time. Beyond that, also a certain intuitive force is at work, as well, that is in the realm of those inexplicable aspects of the creative imagination. Narrative is a tricky and complicated operation, as it both competes with and transforms life and history in the telling of a story. The perspective that the narrator and the author are going to adopt vis-à-vis their story can depend on a variety of factors from their own closeness or distance from those events to stylistic aspects of voice and sentence structure that come most naturally to the author and best fit their characters. I find that my style and sentences vary in levels of lyricism or realism, and my narrative voice acquires different tonalities depending on the narrative time I choose or that my characters choose. Sometimes I feel that it is the characters themselves who choose the tense in which they are going to tell their story, based also on their temperament and personalities. Mona of Train to Trieste only fully came alive when I allowed her to speak in the first person in the present, whereas Lara from Country of Red Azaleas imposed her voice in the past tense from the first lines of the novel, being a less impulsive and more deliberate person or fictional person I should say.
MSDA : My impression is that there is in your novels a movement from migrant to nomadic patterns of relocation, since Mona’s dream is the American dream in Train to Trieste, whereas Paris for Nora in Black Sea Twilight doesn’t necessarily seem to be an end point. In Black Sea Twilight, the Gypsy model, nomadic par excellence, so problematic in Romanian culture, is positivized to the extent that nomadism becomes a state to be desired. Do you agree? And, if there is such a migrant-tonomad model, how does it evolve in Country of Red Azaleas?
Domnica Radulescu : That is a very interesting distinction. I don’t believe that I ever thought of this consciously when I wrote my novels, but I can see perfectly that it is true and also that it becomes progressively so with my more recent writings. In my play Naturalized Woman (2012), the character of Aretha Franklin sings a revised version of her famous “You Make Me Feel like a Natural Woman” that says “You Make Me Feel like a Refugee” and at the end of the play she, together with the protagonist and the other female characters, reinvents the word and notion of refugee and endows it with the meaning of freedom, creative and empowered living, as well as with that of embracing difference, diversity, and multiculturalism.1 Indeed in Country of Red Azaleas, my two heroines Lara and Marija are in a constant search for home, as they keep reinventing themselves, their sense of belonging, of culture, and of family. Once uprooted from their native Serbia, respectively Bosnia, because of the gruesome war of the 1990s, their sense of home becomes more and more fluid as the novel progresses, and their immigrant or refugee condition morphs indeed into a nomadic journey across continents, navigating the spaces between nations, cultures, and languages. Ultimately, in the penultimate chapter, they completely shift into a radical reinvention of the American Dream as they move across the Wild West and try to discover, redefine, and own real and imaginary spaces of the ultimate frontier. They are travelers whose intrinsic homes are in themselves and in each other.
MSDA : It seems to me that the liveliness of the dialogues and the characters in your fiction comes from your experience as a theater producer and playwright. Why did you choose cinema rather than theater in Country of Red Azaleas?
Domnica Radulescu : In many ways the Hollywood industry has created what Jean Baudrillard has called the “hyperreal,” a world of simulacra and simulation that is often taken to be “more real than the real.” This world shapes much of our thinking, even social and cultural constructs. For those of us who lived under the drab Communist oppression and daily grayness of shortages of all kinds, fear, anxiety, and lack of basic freedoms, as well as human rights violations, the magical world of Hollywood was not only an escape and a refuge from all that but almost a strategy of survival. To become immersed in the world of Hollywood movies allowed us to leave our daily struggles for short periods of time and become engaged with other worlds and the imaginary people populating these worlds, as well as often enhancing our courage to rebel against our daily inequities and to sharpen our critical thinking. Films such as Doctor Zhivago (1965), written by a Russian who had been persecuted in his own native country for exposing the brutality of the Bolshevik Revolution and the various reigns of terror that followed, gave us a great sense of vindication. On the other hand, films such as Casablanca (1942) introduced us to a utopian world of adventure and glamor, of romance, elegance, and sexiness that contrasted much with the stories of World War II from our families and communities precisely because they were shrouded in the Hollywood gloss. Many Romanians or Yugoslavian people would have rather watched Hollywood renditions of events that had happened in their own European history, such as the work of the French Resistance or the horrors of the Soviet Union, than the rendition of these events produced by their own countries’ movie industries. Tito was also unusual in this respect, in that he was obsessed with Hollywood and even had Richard Burton play him as an anti-Nazi hero. In a way, we tried to escape the falsifying Communist utopias inside sentimental Hollywood utopias. Finally, in my book Hollywood movies also play the role of an enhancer of reality in a way that subverts by contrast the very claims to reality made by Hollywood itself. What happens to Marija and to Lara is brutally real, and while they often cling to movie lines and images, they ultimately act from places of visceral pain, passion, love, or irony that supersede any Hollywood creation. In a way they compete with Hollywood in the chase for the real. Their destinies and the turns of their life choices ultimately subvert and reverse conventional or archetypal Hollywood and fairy-tale-like scenarios or the traditional happy ending.
MSDA : Nonverbal arts such as painting and music also play an important role in your writing. In the creative process of your plays and novels, do you think of your characters as living beings with a destiny of their own, which you can only control to a certain extent? How much authorial control and how much hazard go into the making of your characters?
Domnica Radulescu : Indeed theater has played an enormous part in my formation as a multifaceted intellectual and creative artist, and I have been engaged with it in most of its aspects, having started as an actor while in Romania (as part of a theater group inspired by the practice of the Polish director Jerzy Grotowski), continued as a theater director, teacher, scholar of theater, and playwright. I think performance arts not only form an intrinsic part of my work as creative artist but they have marked the way in which I exist and operate in the world, relate to people and the universe. I see and live the world in visual and deeply sensorial ways, but I am also a born storyteller, and the combination of all these elements produce the theatrical, visual, and synesthetic nature of my fiction writing. As for my characters, their destinies and choices, indeed I can say that at some point in the writing process, they acquire a will and life of their own and they take off in a way that I am almost following them around and taking their cues. Of course, though, it is really still me shaping and constructing their paths but in ways that seem to impose themselves upon my conscience with imperious necessity.
MSDA : What is for you the difference between your two voices – as a creative writer and as a critic/academic?
Domnica Radulescu : I don’t really differentiate that way between my critical and my creative fiction voices but rather consider them part of a continuum of writing, in which one aspect is more predominant at different times and in which the two dimensions nourish and feed into each other. My books of literary and performance theory and criticism are written with a creative vein and emerge from very personal and often visceral experiences and connections to other creative artists and works of art, while my creative fiction and playwriting are crossed by critical threads and often substantiated by assiduous research and ethnographic explorations. I write fiction and I write about fiction, I write about theater and I write and direct theater. My novels, plays, and books of criticism treat similar themes, such as the condition of exile and displacement, the journeys, inventions, and reinventions of real and imaginary empowered women, the experience of historical and political events from the perspective of women. I travel within and without these realms of discourse or écriture, shifting positions of insider and outsider and often just keeping my balance on the line between the two sides, and enjoying the vertigo and the irreverent mixing of the two, and the crossing of boundaries. I think my writing itself reflects my condition of exile, of insider and outsider of cultures, languages, geographies, and the balancing act of living and creating in the in-between spaces. Moving in and out of genres and forms of discourse is to me also a constant refusal of definitions and boundaries, a liberation from impositions of form and labeling. The academic world can be extremely restrictive and unimaginative, but the world of creative artists can also be overly narcissistic and taken with its own flamboyance. Yet, all that being said, for me there is one fundamental difference between my existence and work as an academic/critic and that of creative artist in the genres of the novel and playwriting – the former is an acquired and learned skill, the latter is a form of being. I have become and have grown into an academic and a literary critic, whereas I have been an inventor and writer of stories for as long as I can remember. I could very well live without the academic world and I am taking an indefinite break from scholarly writing. But I couldn’t live without my creative writing, it is part of who I am and an existential necessity, it is my country within, and I can take it everywhere I go.
MSDA : The question of exile is orchestrated in a variety of ways in your creative writing and academic works, ultimately becoming a state of mind in your highly imaginative sci-fi play Exile Is My Home. Would you agree that, far from being a tragic state of alienation, exile in your fiction and plays actually becomes a state of grace, which empowers the characters, making them citizens of more than one country?
Domnica Radulescu : Yes and no. It is an empowerment that comes at the price of lifelong confusion and irremediable grief. It is a state of alienation, only that for my characters as for myself, it is a state of alienation that challenges them to keep recreating themselves and to find virtue and richness in being at home nowhere and everywhere. Both the tragic and the enriching or empowering dimensions are equally true and coexist. In my play exile is as much a physical state of spatial displacement and, as one of the characters says, “a nomadism of the mind.” These characters are citizens of the world who nevertheless are always looking for a home and a place to belong. The play ends with a utopian image and an operatic scene of finding or creating some kind of real or imaginary home, and with a rush of idiomatic expressions with the word home in them such as to “feel at home,” “make oneself at home,” or “home is where the heart is.” The state of nomadism is equally freeing as it is wrenchingly painful, wrecked with nostalgia, broken memories, and an incorrigible belief in the possibility of rerooting oneself after serial uprooting. Once uprooted from their initial birth place, my characters suffer from a spatial promiscuity, that is they move from place to place, country to country, and planet to planet in an almost demented drive to settle somewhere, yet always dissatisfied by something in each new place, and all while being haunted by fragmented memories of an initial birth home that they were forced to leave. The utopian ending unravels the creation of a dream country where again being a refugee is the new cool, and the immigrants save the day by creating a home where everyone is welcome and embraced in the totality of their individuality.
MSDA : Your works focus mainly on female protagonists who redefine themselves in exilic situations. Is this just a personal choice, or is it part of a more complex musing on how exile, generally following life in oppressive societies, is different for men as compared with women?
Domnica Radulescu : It is both. Being a woman in a man’s world is already a state of exile and of living in the margins. Being a woman exile, or immigrant, or refugee partakes both of the general state of alienation, grief of uprooting, excitement, and fear of resettling and of new beginnings characteristic of both men and women and of the marginalization and gender inequities that women suffer in different societies. Therefore women exiles are doubly so, and as a result of the overlapping marginalization because of a societal or class condition and of gender status they can be subjected to more violence, stereotyping, idealizing, or demonizing compared with men refugees. Further for women to become refugees, immigrants, or exiles, it often implies that they are traveling alone, which relatively speaking is still a recent phenomenon. All the way through the nineteenth century and all through the early modern period, women often cross-dressed in order to travel by themselves or with other women. And even today, not many women cross countries, leave their countries for good, or travel the world by themselves. My heroines all do that, and in fact they travel and traverse lots of territories, cultures, geographical expanses of land, air, and sea. They are in significant ways picaresque heroines who take on the world.
MSDA : Apart from its being one of the most obvious contemporary settings for violence against women, why did you choose former Yugoslavia for Country of Red Azaleas?
Domnica Radulescu : I am obsessed with how people act and survive in times of war and with war from that part of the world. I come from there, and my parents are survivors of World War II. Also, Yugoslavia was Romania’s most admired neighbor during Communism because of Tito’s more liberal form of Communism. Romanians used to go to Yugoslavia in order to then escape to Italy through Trieste. My first novel, Train to Trieste, is inspired by that reality, and my heroine Mona escapes Romania through and gets to Italy via Belgrade, as you know. It was inconceivable to me that such a war could erupt from that region and reach such horrific proportions less than half a century after the “never again” vows following World War II, loudly proclaimed from European countries. Also, my first return to Romania after my escape happened to be sixteen years later, right at the time when UN and NATO planes were flying above Romania during Serbia’s war with Kosovo. It seemed surreal to me, as if I were returning to my parents’ times. Some topics choose us rather than us choosing them.
MSDA : I like the way in which the motif of the red azaleas connects Sarajevo and Los Angeles. How did that image come into being?
Domnica Radulescu : In general I pay a lot of attention to the elements of nature in urban settings, such as flowers, trees, different habitats, as it is obvious from my first two novels, in which the mountains and respectively the sea are almost always in the background of the action and sometime part of the action itself. In Train to Trieste, one of the recurrent floral images were linden flowers because of their fragrance, and at some point, red bougainvillea color Mona’s imaginary landscape. The red azaleas are real and imaginary objects of beauty, love, and redemption that bloom out of suffering and destruction with indomitable strength and brilliance. Sarajevo and Los Angeles are connected in Lara and Marija’s imaginations because of the utopian images of beauty and exotic universes that allow them to escape from their immediate realities, be that the monotonous classrooms and school during their childhood or the tragic realities of their adult lives and traumas. Finally, red flowers and azaleas colored Lara and Marija’s childhood landscapes, and after their decade-long separation, they meet in LA for the first time. The red azaleas form a real and imaginary thread or bridge between their past and present, the Balkan city of their childhood and the American city where their adult adventure is about to begin.
MSDA : An important topic of your writing is that of friendships between women, who, in limit situations, are capable of complete hospitality toward each other (in Derrida’s sense). We see this happening a little in Train to Trieste, more in Black Sea Twilight, and a lot in Country of Red Azaleas. How would you situate this feminine continuum within the complex geography of exile in your work?
Domnica Radulescu : The strong connections, friendship, solidarity, and love between women is an intrinsic part of the feminist tapestry and inner workings of my creative work and like everything else, it is partly by choice and partly by personal drive and intuition, as well as a result of personal experience. This aspect of my writings radically contradicts and flies in the face of a lot of canonical, as well as modern literature, theater, or film created by male artists and in whose works women generally gravitate around men or the relations between women are established in reference to or rivalry for the attention of men. My heroines rely on the example, help, and support of women from their own families and ancestry and/or women friends in overcoming personal difficulties, but also in enriching and expanding their own sense of self, the creation of meaning, and the access to authentic feeling and comforting togetherness. Marija and Lara are soulmates in all the possible ways: intellectual, artistic, political, and emotional, on top of also having an erotic attraction toward each other. Their complicated life journeys take them across different worlds, ordeals, and adventures that only deepen their profound and indestructible connection. They complement each other in complex ways to a degree that one cannot be complete without the other. They share a once-in-a-lifetime connection that extends over the widest range of human experiences, needs, and aspirations: they both share a passion for truth and justice while also sharing a tragi-comic sense of life and the human adventure, a reckless love of life in all its carnal realities, as well as its invisible meanders and energies. They are both avid for experience and lucid thinkers, though Lara is endowed with a certain scientific precision, while Marija possesses artistic flamboyance. Finally, together Marija and Lara create an indomitable force of life, creativity, and transformation that is the equal of the great friendships of history and canonical literature that have traditionally belonged to male heroes, warriors, and wanderers, such as Achiles and Patrocles, Enkidu and Gilgamesh, and Dante and Virgil. They represent a utopian version of history-making that is based on love, tenderness, the power of motherhood, and the creativity of storytelling and that counteracts and subverts patriarchal histories, violent wars, and male-dominated discourses. Their journeys offer an alternative way of being in the world.