Growing up in Romania during the 1980s under an oppressive regime was “normal” for Andrei Guruianu, assistant professor of English. As a 10-year-old he viewed his family’s move to Queens, NY, in 1991 as a loss, not an opportunity. “I missed my grandparents so much,” he says. “And of course there were the usual immigrant jokes at school.”
Guruianu assimilated quickly, was fluent in English within a year and went on to become the salutatorian of his elementary school class. As he became more aware of his past and studied world events, he realized the significance of the revolution in Romania in 1989. “My family life totally changed and my parents left their country as a result,” he says. “I was inspired to piece together the impact of this event on others.”
As a graduate student at Binghamton University, he asked people to write about their experiences in Eastern Europe. In 2009, he compiled 33 submissions into an anthology titled “Twenty Years After the Fall.” In fall 2010, he published his memoir “Metal and Plum,” which conveys the impact of immigration on his family, the contrast of Ceausescu’s Romania with the challenges of adaptation to the United States and the pain of returning to a home that is no longer really there.
“I always tell my creative writing students that you should use your own life for material,” Guruianu says, who advises the NC Review. “Your private life is not off limits as a writer.”