Interviews & Reviews
“I have had the privilege of knowing Viorica (Vicki) for almost 20 years and through that relationship have met Alex on a number of occasions. They are incredibly nice, smart, and interesting people. I have a copy of Planet New York on my bookshelf and really enjoyed the story. Highly recommend picking up a copy today!”
“Great! It is very fresh and sincere. Congratulations for the web page! Looking forward to reading the next novel.”
“Entertains as well as informs with hard earned details from his personal life. Immerses the reader in the pursuit of the American Dream from the perspective of a new arrival, the battle with change and uncertainty. The ups, the downs, the doubts, the happy moments. Shows the metamorphosis, the transition from an outsider to a well integrated member of US society. ”
“What a lovely little gem of a book! You cannot help but root for Nicki and Lydia as they struggle to overcome the madness of immigration, the alienation of culture shock and the uncertainty of personal change. The prose flows briskly, full of wit and intelligence, and you come to know these people like old friends. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to read Planet New York. I hope many, many others get to enjoy it as well.”
Planet New York
In the late seventies a young and articulate Romanian couple arrives in New York City. As they begin life in their new home and unfamiliar country, their struggles test the strength of their bond and their will to succeed. Follow their journey as they seek to define their feelings toward each other, their unborn child, their parents, friends, and even God in PLANET NEW YORK, a fascinating book written by Tudor Alexander.
PLANET NEW YORK is the story of their whirlwind first six-and-a-half weeks in the city.
Witness the ritual of marriage and love without contraceptives, the dreariness of the day-to-day material existence, and the difficulties and dangers of pursuing emigration in communist Romania. Read about their exciting voyage from Bucharest, through Israel and Greece, to New York. There, despite being left stranded by their sponsor, they make the best of it and relish their first days in America. But assimilating too many changes at once is taking its toll. Alienated and homesick, Lydia discovers she is pregnant. Nicki is not ready for a family and apprehensive that the baby will limit his hard earned freedom to explore and enjoy the country of his dreams. As they adapt, find jobs, make friends and learn to live like Americans, Lydia and Nicki achieve the happiness they seek.
Brimming with autobiographical authenticity, Nicki and Lydia's memories create a rich picture of their old country for the American reader in PLANET NEW YORK. Defying convention, this tale "rich in humor and old country aura" (Geoff Rotunno, TheBooxReview) is not one of destitute poverty, but of success, in a world populated by colorful and generous people.
"The contrast between the Communist culture they have escaped and the new one they encounter reflects the author's own experience. He deftly captures the time and changes required to adapt to their new world…This is a short, very interesting story that has a happy ending." (Bookviews by Alan Caruba, March 2001)
"Most memorable is the author's portrait of Manhattan and America through Nicki's eyes, as well as his lovely and complex depiction of Lydia, who comes across as a rather formidable half to this whole." (Kirkus Discoveries)
The novel has received an Honorable Mention at the 2007 New York Book Festival.
The book cover was designed by Nira Duvan, the author's talented daughter.
To purchase click on author's page here.
In May 1977, I passed out at the medical center on Alexandras Boulevard in Athens. My wife Lydia passed out six-and-a-half weeks later at the Monet exhibition in Manhattan.
We were young then. Passing out and taking chances was what we did.
People were nice to us and although in Manhattan, instead of helping, they stepped cautiously away from Lydia’s slender body stretched on the floor, I didn’t think they were less caring than the people in Greece. In Manhattan, it was the liability that frightened them. In Greece, where common sense was stronger than the fear of liability, the nurse at the medical center placed my head in her statuesque lap and slapped me.
She must have felt guilty, I thought. After all, I had warned her I couldn’t stand the sight of blood, especially my own. But she just brushed me off. Lydia had brushed me off as well, although she knew better, and so did our two friends, Hadassah and Michael, who just happened to be there with us. They were there because they had nothing better to do. Like us, they were political refugees from Romania, caught between two opposing worlds.
Romania was Communist at the time.
The nurse was about our age, perhaps three or four years older, maybe thirty or so. She was a large-sized woman with long dark hair and dark eyes, dressed in a white gown that was too short and too tight on her. When I saw her coming towards me with the syringe, I gasped and took a few steps backwards. Without realizing, I slammed my body down onto a flimsy folding chair that happened to be in the area. Next to it stood a comfortable leather sofa.
‘Let me sit on the sofa,” I asked the nurse.
I guess she didn’t speak English well enough, or thought I was trying to be cute. The metal sides of the chair pressed into my ribs. The nurse tied a rubber band around my left arm and before I had a chance to say anything, she pricked me with the needle. For a few seconds, I watched my blood filling the plastic syringe, but soon the world started to spin and I blanked out. When I opened my eyes again, I was lying on the comfortable sofa, with my head in her lap. The folding chair was overturned. Kneeling next to me, Lydia squeezed a wet handkerchief. Droplets ran out of it like small tears.
Hadassah and Michael stood perfectly still.
“You fainted,” Lydia said somewhat perplexed and touched my forehead with the handkerchief. “As tall as you are, you simply tumbled out of that chair.”
She straightened my hair with her fingers. Her touch burned my skin. I wished I could stay there forever, halfway between dream and reality, her face close to mine, watching me with worried eyes.
Gradually, I forced myself into a sitting position. My mouth was dry and my eyes stung. I wasn’t feeling well, but wanted to act normally, for Lydia’s sake. I felt ashamed and terrified. I feared the nurse would ask me for more blood, but luckily she didn’t. Somehow, she must have saved the syringe when I went down to the floor.
Later, I asked Michael to walk with me to the bathroom to wash up. He looked at me with a funny smile.
“Too bad you didn’t see the nurse slapping you,” he said in Romanian. “She did it like a real pro.”
I leaned on him. What else could he have said to me? Nothing.
I knew him since when we were both on the national swim team in Bucharest. In Athens, we ran into each other by chance at the office of the United States Catholic Commission, or the USCC, the organization that took care of us. I had gone there to pick up the money - the equivalent in drachmas of six US dollars a day. That was how much two adults were receiving for food and miscellaneous, plus the voucher for the hotel. As usual, the waiting room was overflowing with people, and a bunch of them were gathered outside on the sidewalk. I went quickly in to take a number, and then outside again. When I saw Michael, I couldn’t believe my eyes. He was standing a few feet in front of me, smoking and looking into a shop window. I hadn’t seen him in a number of years, but I recognized him right away. He was a tall man with broad shoulders, a little stooped, an edgy but kind face, and a wide forehead with a lot of blond hair on top.
“Michael,” I said in a strangled voice. “Michael, is this you? What are you doing here?”
Startled, he turned and looked at me as if through a haze. Slowly, his blue eyes cleared and a smile appeared on his face. We hugged.
“Nicki, I didn’t expect to find you here, my God!”
“Neither did I. Tell me, when did you arrive?”
“Four days ago.”
“That explains why I haven’t seen you before.”
I told him we had been there for almost five months. I suggested we meet in the afternoon and go out.
“Wait a second,” he said.
He flicked his cigarette out and went inside. He returned accompanied by his wife, Hadassah, a petite woman with glasses. She seemed nervous, afraid. When she shook my hand, she looked the other way.
“So the Catholics are helping you,” I led on.
“We don’t know,” Michael said in a low voice. “We are not sure if our religions matter.”
“They don’t. The money comes from the States and the Catholics help everybody. Look at us. Lydia is Jewish, I am Greek Orthodox and they are helping us.”
Hadassah glanced at me. Michael placed a finger over his lips signaling me not to speak too loudly. He was right. One could never be too careful.