Former Celine Dion Translator Tackles Sexual Obsession and History in Romania

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Bruce Benderson’s “The Romanian: Story of an Obsession,” winner of one of France’s most prestigious literary prizes, skewers Celine Dion in his tell-all about loving an East European hustler.

On Sunday, May 7, 2006, Celine Dion and cast will celebrate the 500th performance of A New Day..., created by DRAGONE and presented by Chrysler at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace, Las Vegas. But Celine Dion isn’t thinking only of her own stupendous success. She will use this special occasion to give something back to the Las Vegas community by donating all proceeds from the show to The Celine Dion Foundation to benefit 10 Las Vegas charities.

Nevertheless, not everyone seems to be waiting in line to cheer the charismatic singer. Pop Life, a division of QuickDFW.com that covers the pop culture scene on a global scale, quoted some unflattering remarks about Dion by her translator, Bruce Benderson, in Benderson’s own memoir, “The Romanian: Story of an Obsession.” Speaking of the unenviable task of translating Dion’s memoirs, Benderson said, “I felt as if I’d been plunged into a swamp of banality whose shores would never be sighted.”

Benderson’s book, which won the Prix de Flore, a prestigious French literary prize, in 2004, details his infatuation for a Romanian hustler “in cheap club-kid platforms, with dollar signs in his squinting eyes.” Part personal tale and part travel memoir, the book also weaves in a story of King Carol, Romania’s last monarch, whose scandalous affair with a Jewish mistress, Lupescu, helped bring Romania to its knees shortly before World War II.

“I’ve got nothing against Celine Dion,” remarked Benderson. “In fact, I think she sounds pretty good when she sings in French. But putting her saccharine autobiography into English during a long, sizzling summer in Bucharest to support a lazy lover wasn’t exactly a garden party.”

The Romanian: Story of an Obsession was released on February 2 by Tarcher/Penguin and has garnered rave reviews from the Los Angeles Times, The Seattle Times and The Village Voice.

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Johnny Eminence

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