Romanian millionaires’ “prison books” on display at Romania’s National Library

Romania’s National Library hosts between February 4 and March 31 a special exhibition featuring books written by prisoners while they were serving their jail sentences.

The exhibition includes a total of 80 books published between 2010 and 2015. Some of their authors are local millionaires who have served time in recent years, such as George Becali and Gheorghe Copos, reports local Mediafax. Becali and Copos were two of Romania’s richest some 10 years ago, but they were more famous for owning two of Romania’s top football clubs, Steaua Bucharest and Rapid Bucharest.

Both Becali and Copos wrote books in prison to get their jail sentences reduced. The law in Romania allows prisoners who write scientific papers while in jail get 30 days cut from their sentences.

Some 180 authors have written and published books while in prison in the last five years. Romania’s National Library has about a third of these books in its collection, 80 of which will be displayed. The titles include George Becali’s religious-themed book Muntele Athos – Patria Ortodoxiei (Mount Athos – The Land of Orthodoxy), and George Copos’ much debated historical work Aliante Matrimoniale in Politica Principilor Romani din Tara Romaneasca si Moldova in Secolele XIV-XVI (Matrimonial Alliances in the Politics Carried by Romanian Princes in Wallachia and Moldova in the XiV-XVI Centuries). Copos has been accused of plagiarising this book, as he didn’t have access to the documents he quoted in this book while in prison.

This exhibition is a unique opportunity for those who want to see these books, as most of them have never reached the bookshops, all the copies being bought by the authors themselves.

The exhibition, called Carti cu raspundere limitata (Books with limited liability), will stay open between 08:00 and 18:00 on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and between 08:00 and 20:00 on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The entry is free.

Besides being a highly-debated subject in the local media, Romania’s so-called ‘prison literature” has also been highlighted by international publications such as The Economist and The Guardian. Moreover, it has also attracted the attention of the National Anticorruption Department (DNA), which has decided to start an investigation, as many of the prison authors had been convicted after DNA’s investigations, and the publishing work helped them reduce their sentences.

The Government decided on Wednesday (February 3), to suspend the rule that allows prison authors to get their sentences reduced at least until September 1.

How many books published by prison authors in Romania?

Irina Popescu, [email protected]