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From the Edges of Europe: New Bulgarian Literature

March 2017

Image: Anastas Petkov, The Bridge in Burgas, Bulgaria 2012.

Image: Anastas PetkovThe Bridge in Burgas, Bulgaria 2012.

Our latest issue includes work from eight thrilling writers from the Balkan nation of Bulgaria. While most readers may be hard-pressed to think of a Bulgarian writer other than 1981 Nobel laureate Elias Canetti, the poets, fiction writers, and essayists in this issue suggest Bulgarian letters are alive and well, spinning tales that grapple with everything from the Soviet years and exile to the most unusual of bookstores and the surest way to go blind.

Georgi Gospodinov extols literature’s ability to bolster us in the midst of economic and moral crisis, Theodora Dimova weaves a tale of another poète maudit, Zachary Karabashliev chronicles one widower’s struggle to begin anew in another country, and Yordanka Beleva takes a clinical approach to canine companionship. Plus more work by Alek PopovAngel Igov, Kristin Dimitrova, and Boryana Neykova, introduced by guest editors Svetlozar Zhelev and Angela Rodel.

This issue of Words without Borders was translated with the support of National Book Centre, part of National Palace of Culture-Congress Center Sofia.

Make Bulgaria Great Again
By Svetlozar Zhelev & Angela Rodel
Just like every other literature and viewpoint, Bulgarian literature has important contributions to make.
Books hanging on light fixtures
Photo by Hatice Yardım on Unsplash
Invisible Crises
By Georgi Gospodinov
We must admit here that we, people on the side of literature, writers, publishers, and enthusiastic readers, have to a certain extent accepted our own defeat.
Translated from Bulgarian by Angela Rodel
By Theodora Dimova
This skin hanging like a wet sheet over bent bones would have seemed devastating to me.
Translated from Bulgarian by Angela Rodel
By Zachary Karabashliev
How is it that in this big whoppin’ America there’s not a single little piece of baling wire?
Translated from Bulgarian by Angela Rodel
The Meek
By Angel Igov
Then the generous autumn of ’44 suddenly thrust into your hands the power to shape human fates.
Translated from Bulgarian by Angela Rodel
The Shadow of the Great Masturbator
By Alek Popov
“You’ve been trading in stolen knickers, haven’t you!”
Translated from Bulgarian by Christopher Buxton
Time to Pack
By Boryana Neykova
Soon I will be leaving this town too
Translated from Bulgarian by Irina Ivanova
Visitors Assume All Risk upon Entering the Premises
By Kristin Dimitrova
He spoke quietly, calmly, with a certain despair that was discernible only on the fringes of his personality.
Translated from Bulgarian by Annie Dancheva
A brown dachshund stands on a dirt path in a park
Photo by MATÍAS ALEJANDRO on Unsplash
Seven Ways to Hide Behind a Dog
By Yordanka Beleva
The first question is “Why did you get a dog?”
Translated from Bulgarian by Ivan Kolarov