The Little Communist Who Never Smiled (WINNER OF TEN INTERNATIONAL LITERARY PRIZES)
The Montreal Olympics, 1976. A fourteen-year-old girl steps out onto the floor of the Montreal Forum and into history.
Twenty seconds on the uneven bars is it all it takes for Nadia Comaneci, the slight, unsmiling child from Communist Romania, to etch herself into the collective memory. The judges award her an unprecedented perfect ten, the first in Olympic gymnastics.
In The Little Communist Who Never Smiled, Lola Lafon weaves an intricate web of truth and fiction around Comaneci's life, from her discovery by legendary gymnastics coach Béla Károlyi up to her defection to the United States in 1989.
Adored by young girls in the West and appropriated as a political emblem by the Ceausescu regime, Comaneci was a fearless, fiercely determined child whose body would become a battleground in the Cold War story of East against West. Lafon's novel is a powerful re-imagining of a childhood in the spotlight of history, politics and destiny.
An acrobatic, revealing novel ... Lafon follows in the twirling, ethereal steps of Nadia Comaneci (Télérama)
Lola Lafon reinvents the life of star gymnast Nadia Comaneci ... she writes about the rewriting of history, of an individual story and a collective myth (Livres Hebdo)
A virtuoso blend of documentary and imagination ... startling (Nouvel Observateur)
Enthralling ... Lafon turns Comaneci into a mirror for all the madness directed at the female body (Les Inrockuptibles)