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Author Andrei Codrescu to visit U. of I., celebrate gift to campus library

Andrea Lynn, Humanities Editor


CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Andrei Codrescu, a social critic and radio commentator, is coming to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to open and celebrate the Andrei Codrescu Collection.

A prolific poet, novelist and essayist, Codrescu gave his collection of hundreds of Romanian books, periodicals and other materials – many of them rare – to the University Library last year. It will be his first visit to the collection since he made the donation.

Codrescu will be involved in several activities while on campus March 2:

• Interview at 11 a.m. on “Focus 580,” broadcast on WILL-AM (580).

• Symposium on “Romania: Contemporary Reflections Featuring Andrei Codrescu,” 4:15 to 5:15 p.m. in 100 Gregory Hall, 810 S. Wright St., Urbana. Other participants in the free, public event, all from Illinois: Donna Buchanan, director of the Russian, East European, and Eurasian Center; Paula Kaufman, university librarian; and Miranda Remnek, head of the Slavic and East European Library, which acquired the collection.

• Reception, book signing and exhibit of Codrescu Collection materials, 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., Marshall Gallery, east foyer of the Main Library, 1408 W. Gregory Drive, Urbana. Performance by the U. of I. Balkanalia Music Ensemble, directed by Buchanan. The event is free and open to the public.

Codrescu has added to the U. of I. collection since his original gift; some of the additional materials have gone to his Romanian-language collection, others to a small archive of items by and about him.

The latter he describes as a private archive of work published in magazines and newspapers since 1989.

The archive includes essays “by me and about me, as well as my poetry and fiction,” Codrescu told Remnek, coordinator of the Codrescu Collection in the Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

Although most of the 660 items Codrescu originally donated are in Romanian, his native language, the collection also includes books in English and other languages, including some of the author’s own writings.

Most of the publications were written since the fall of dictatorship in Romania in 1989, and many were produced by small publishing houses. Nearly half are rare, not documented anywhere else in the United States, Remnek said, adding that Codrescu gave his collection to Illinois because he “recognized it as an institution of strength” in Slavic materials following a visit to the campus in 2004.

Codrescu is the MacCurdy Distinguished Professor of English at Louisiana State University. The winner of numerous literary awards, he was born in 1946 in Sibiu, a small town in the Transylvania region of Romania. He immigrated to the United States in 1966 and became a U.S. citizen in 1981.

For more information about the Codrescu Collection, including information about Romanian authors in the collection, visit

With 755,000 volumes and more than 3,500 serial publications, the Slavic Library is the third largest Slavic and East European collection in the United States.

The U. of I. Library, with more than 10 million volumes and 23 million items, is the largest public university collection in the world.