Author Archives: admin

About admin

"Origin, resume - all nonsense! We all come from some small town Jüterbog or Königsberg and in some Black Forest we will all end" (Gottfried Benn) Therefore just a stenogram: Thomas Huebner, born in Germany, studied Economics, Political Science, Sociology, German literature, European Law. Consulting firm in Bulgaria. Lived in Germany, Bulgaria, Albania, Egypt, Turkey, Syria, Indonesia and Jordan. Now residing in Prishtina/Kosovo. Interested in books and all other aspects of human culture. Traveler. Main feature: intellectual curiosity

“The 21st Century Greatest Novels”

The BBC asked a number of well-known literary critics to name “The 21st Century greatest novels”. And just as I imagined it: all the 12 books on the top of the list are written in English!
 
That says little about “The 21st Century greatest novels”, but a lot about the state of (mono-) culture in the English-speaking countries, where hardly three percent of the published books are works translated from other languages.
© Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com, 2014-7. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without expressed and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Frisch aus der Druckerei

Die Rezensionsexemplare von “Germanii”, dem von mir übersetzten Gedichtband von Vladislav Hristov, sind da – und sie sehen gut aus!

No automatic alt text available.

Rezensenten und Blogger: bei Interesse an diesem neuen Gedichtband bitte melden! (mail@rhizome-bg.com) – Ein paar Besprechungsexemplare sind noch vorhanden.

© Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com, 2014-7. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without expressed and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. 
© Photo: Elitsa Osenska, 2017

“Expats”

FB Groups/Forums – most of them seem to be rather futile efforts. I just left a group called “Foreigners in Sofia & Friends” which “has the goal to connect all the expats in Sofia and their friends and aims to be a self-help Community where members are supporting each other.”

I left because:

– I am not an expat – I am a migrant. (Many of the smug “expats” will not understand that remark, I am rather sure.)

– I am already well connected with my wonderful Bulgarian and a few other migrant friends, and don’t have the particular wish to connect “with all expats in Sofia.”

– I don’t find it very appealing that on the few occasions I wrote a comment to a post in this group, I was verbally abused by a number of hardcore resident expat trolls for no obvious reason.

– I don’t find it very appealing to read in too many threads that Bulgarians are dumb and rude.

– I don’t find the overwhelming number of posts appealing that could have easily be answered by using a simple search engine.

– I don’t find it particularly appealing that the vast majority of posts are questions like “where can I find an English-speaking N.N. in Sofia?”

– I don’t find it very appealing when simple questions such as “can someone recommend me a Latin American restaurant in Sofia” are almost exclusively answered by people who haven’t obviously read or understood the question (or why would they recommend Iranian, Iraqi, Chinese restaurants instead of answering the question?)

– I am tired of reading again and again how terrible Sofia and Bulgaria are. If you feel like that, what are you doing here? A practical lesson in masochism?

No big deal. It’s just: these kind of forums are nor for me.

They are for – “expats”!

© Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com, 2014-7. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without expressed and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The Curse of Social Media

The curse of “Social Media“:

People talk and gossip endlessly about each other and communicate very little with each other.

© Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com, 2014-7. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without expressed and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Vorankündigung: Vladislav Hristov – Germanii

Der Gedichtband “Germanii” des renommierten bulgarischen Dichters Vladislav Hristov erscheint in Kürze auf deutsch. Im Original erschien das Buch 2014 im Verlag Ergo in Sofia. Das Buch wurde von mir übersetzt, und ich bin natürlich ziemlich aufgeregt, meine erste längere Arbeit als Übersetzer bald in Buchform publiziert zu sehen.

Der Band bildet den Auftakt der Buchreihe “Stimmen aus Bulgarien”, in denen der Verlag Rhizome aus Sofia dem deutschsprachigen Lesepublikum bulgarische Literatur zeitgenössischer Autoren vorstellen wird. Diese Buchreihe wird von Elitsa Osenska und mir herausgegeben werden. Als zweites Buch ist ein Band mit Erzählungen von Jordanka Beleva geplant.

Vladislav Hristov wurde 1976 in Shumen, Bulgarien, geboren. Er lebt und arbeitet als Journalist und Photograph in Sofia.

Seine Gedichte wurden u.a. in den internationalen Literaturzeitschriften “Granta”, “Cider Press Review” und “Drunken Boat” veröffentlicht.

Er gewann zahlreiche Literaturpreise und Ehrungen: für Kurzprosa die Auszeichnung von LiterNet & eRunsMagazine (2007), den Nationalpreis für Haiku zu einem freien Thema (2010), den internationalen Haiku-Wettbewerb “Cherry blossom” (2011), und zwei der bedeutendsten bulgarischen Auszeichnungen für Dichtkunst – den Dobromir-Tonev-Preis (2015), und den Slavejkov-Preis (2015).

In drei aufeinanderfolgenden Jahren war er in der Rangliste der 100 kreativsten europäischen Haiku-Verfasser aufgeführt, und im Jahr 2016 fanden mehrere seiner Haiku Aufnahme in ein japanisches Universitätslehrbuch zum Thema.

Er ist Mitglied der “Haiku Foundation”. Seine Haiku sind u.a. in der Zeitschrift der Amerikanischen Haiku-Vereinigung “Frogpond”, in “World Haiku Review”, der Zeitschrift des Internationalen Haiku-Clubs, sowie in “Simply Haiku”, “The Heron’s Nest” und vielen anderen Zeitschriften veröffentlicht.

Im Jahr 2011 wurde eine Auswahl seiner Haiku von der deutschen Website “Haiku heute” und später in deren Jahrbuch publiziert.

Texte von Hristov sind in 16 Sprachen übersetzt. Auf bulgarisch liegen folgende Bücher von ihm vor: “Bilder von Kindern” (Kurzprosa, 2010), Enso (Gedichte, 2012 – nominiert für die höchste Auszeichnung für Dichtkunst in Bulgarien, den Ivan-Nikolov-Preis), “Phi” (Gedichte, 2013), “Germanii” (Gedichte, 2014) und “Countdown” (Gedichte, 2016). Ein Band mit Publizistik ist in Vorbereitung.

Eine kleine Kostprobe aus dem Band kann man hier finden.

Literaturkritiker, Rezensenten und Buchblogger, die das Buch besprechen wollen und ein Rezensionsexemplar zugesandt bekommen wollen, senden mir bitte eine Nachricht als Kommentar zu diesem Posting, am besten unter Angabe des Mediums, in dem die Rezension erscheinen soll. 

Weitere Informationen zum Buch mit genauem Erscheinungsdatum und Bestelldetails folgen bald an dieser Stelle in Kürze.

Der Buchumschlag stammt von Ivo Rafailov, der auch die bulgarische Originalausgabe gestaltet hat.

© Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com, 2014-7. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without expressed and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
© Ivo Rafailov, 2014-7 (Umschlaggraphik)
 

 


#trumpspeak

Lies are now called “alternative facts“.

#trumpspeak

© Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com, 2014-7. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without expressed and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

My blogging year 2016 – some statistics

This was my blogging year 2016 in a few numbers (in brackets the figures for 2015):

Posts total: 92 (87) – +5.7%
Posts in English: 57 (71) – -19.8%
Posts in German: 25 (15) – +66.7%
Posts in Bulgarian: 10 (1) – +1000%
Number of unique visitors: 46,049 (38,331) – +20.1%
Number of visits: 117,916 (94,639) – +24.2%
Number of visited pages: 609,624 (300,456) – +102.9%
Number of page hits: 803,912 (580,619) – +38.5%
Number of countries of location of visitors: 181 (164) – +20.4%
Top five countries page hits: USA, China, Germany, Russia, Ukraine (USA, Albania, Germany, France, Ukraine)
Number of FB followers: 586 (478) – +22.6%
Number of Twitter followers: 1149 (1026) – +12%
Most popular blog post: The Devil Within (A case of revisionism)
Original language of the reviewed/mentioned book: Bulgarian 100 (25), English 49 (10), German 40 (49), Albanian 10 (0), French 7 (7), Serbian 5 (1), Japanese 4 (1), Spanish 2 (2), Yiddish 2 (1), Russian 1 (4), Indonesian 1 (3), Arabic 1 (2), Dutch 1 (2), Italian 1 (1), Romanian 1 (0), Turkish 1 (0)

All the best and a Happy New Year 2017 to all readers!

© Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com, 2014-7. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without expressed and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Georgi Markov – a footnote on a recent edition

I am reading right now (in Bulgarian) a three-volume edition of the essays of the Bulgarian dissident Georgi Markov, who is for me one of the most remarkable Eastern European intellectuals of the time between the end of WWII and the Fall of the Berlin Wall. Unfortunately he is in the West mainly known for the fact that he was assassinated in a rather bizarre way by a hit-man in the service of the Bulgarian State Security, and not for his work and the brilliant analysis of the Bulgarian and other regimes in Eastern Europe.

The edition contains many essays that are – according to the information in the books – published here for the first time in print, and it is remarkable how fresh and highly relevant these essays that are at least four decades old, are today. A fact that says also something very unpleasant about the situation in Bulgaria – still very much run by the networks of people with links to the former Bulgarian State Security and their underlings – and most other Eastern European countries.

The publisher, who brought recently among others also Varlam Shalamov, Yevgenia Ginzburg, and works of Alexander Solzhenitsyn to the Bulgarian readers, has to be praised for this deed.

However, I have also to mention that the footnotes are to me very annoying. While some of them are ridiculously inadequate – is it really necessary to try to explain in two lines who Thomas Mann or Pablo Picasso were, and does the fact that the publisher added these footnotes mean that this edition is intended for an audience that is missing even an elementary Bildung? -, others are inaccurate, and even manipulative.

One example: Pablo Neruda is described in a footnote as an author that was “occupied by communist ideas”, which is clearly a strong understatement; he was in reality a Stalinist hardliner and active GPU/NKWD agent with blood on his hands; he played a big role in the Trotsky assassination, and allegedly some others, and he personally took care of deleting non-Stalinist leftists from the list of people that would be granted a place on a rescue ship and visa to Chile, people desperately trying to leave unoccupied France in 1940; Neruda knew perfectly well that his selection (I am almost tempted to write Selektion here) was in fact a death sentence for almost all of them, executed either by the Nazis, or by the assassination squads of Stalin (Victor Serge has written in detail about such murderous “intellectuals” as Neruda). The footnote about Neruda is in this context extremely misleading.

Another example is Günter Grass, who according to the footnote was a “far-left” writer. For those who don’t know it, Grass was a life-long supporter of the German Social Democrats, even when he left the party for few years out of disappointment; he wrote speeches for his close friend, Chancellor Willy Brandt, one of the most fervent German anti-Communists, and he was himself a lifelong anti-Communist. The German Social Democrats, and also Grass himself, were never “far-left”, and the footnote is either reflecting a completely uninformed editor, or is – what I don’t hope, but cannot completely dismiss as a possibility – intentionally manipulative, “far-left” being in Bulgaria a common epithet for a Communist sympathiser.

On the other hand, it is mentioned that Salvador Dali left Spain after the Civil War, but “refrained from political activities”; those who don’t know who Dali really was, might get the impression that he was an active anti-fascist who left the country to avoid persecution – while the truth is exactly the opposite: he showed a servile attitude towards the dictator Franco and open sympathies for fascism, and he had even the bad taste to (figuratively speaking) spit on the grave of his former best friend Garcia Lorca, who was murdered by Dali’s new friends. There was a reason why Max Ernst crossed the street when he got sight of Dali during his emigration, and it was not only for artistic reasons that he didn’t want to face his shameless plagiarist!

Unfortunately, all intellectuals with sympathies for the (democratic) left seem to be described in a way similar to Grass, while in cases of intellectuals or artists with fascist sympathies a sudden amnesia seems to have taken hold of the editors. 

But not only when it comes to Western artists and intellectuals, this edition goes astray; almost all Bulgarian authors – most of them household names for the readers of this edition; even the famous Blaga Dimitrova has her two-line resume – have a footnote; only Lyubomir Levchev, a key figure of Bulgarian literary life in the time of Communism is not worthy(?) of a footnote. This gifted poet, a close friend of Markov while the later dissident was still living in Bulgaria, who made a career as an orthodox Communist literary functionary, played for example a very active role in the persecution and partly expulsion of the Turkish minority in Bulgaria in the 1980’s (euphemistically called “Revival process” by the Communists), a role in which he seems to take pride until today.

I doubt very much that the missing footnote for Lyubomir Levchev was an editorial oversight (I have privately my suspicion for which reason the footnote is missing), and this missing footnote, together with the other inadequate, wrong, and manipulative footnotes decrease my pleasure in this otherwise great and valuable edition very much. I hope that this edition will see many reprints, and that many especially young Bulgarians will read it – but with more appropriate and correct footnotes!

Георги Марков: До моя съвременник; Ненаписаната българска харта; Ходенето на българина по мъките (3 volumes), Communitas Foundation, Sofia 2015-2016

My remarks are mainly based on the first of the three volumes, which I have finished so far.

© Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com, 2014-7. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without expressed and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Kiril Vasilev: Bann

Bann 

Ausscheidungen von küchenschaben
auf dem weissen einband des buchs
mit gedichten von Paul Celan

das nichts getrennt durch punkte
und wieder verbunden durch kommata
vor den worten und danach

ich stellte das buch wieder hinter den schrank
nun lasst uns darüber streiten ob die erlösung
unsere stimmen überdauern wird

———————————————————–

Заклинание

Изпражнения на хлебарки
върху бялата корица на книга
със стихове на Паул Целан

нищото разделено с точки
и свързано отново със запетайки
преди думите и след тях

върнах книгата зад шкафа
нека  спорът за спасението
да надживее гласовете ни
 

Übersetzung aus dem Bulgarischen von Thomas Hübner

Kiril Vasilev: Provintsii, Small Stations Press, London Sofia 2015 

© Kiril Vasilev and Small Stations Press, 2015.
© Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com, 2014-6. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without expressed and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

A brief review of 2016 and outlook for 2017

It’s kind of unavoidable: the year comes to an end, and everybody and his grandmother are looking back to sum up the last year and to make a kind of forecast for 2017. So do I.

On the plus side, I am alive and kicking and intend to be around also next year. No major health issues, family and close friends are o.k. Anything additional is an undeserved bonus.

In telegram style: first book translated by me, first book published in our small publishing house, plenty more high-quality books to be published in the pipeline, reading as usual, blogging less than last year; wrapping up my consulting project with the Ministry of Trade and Industry in Kosovo and preparing to start something new in another country whose name starts with Mo- (which means I will start to learn another exotic language), not much travelling apart from the Balkans and Germany – there will be more though next year (Indonesia, here I come again!).

On the minus side, the world is not a particularly cheerful place these days, and I am expecting for next year a further deterioration of the international situation. It looks as if Doomsday is much nearer as I thought last year at this time. But there is always a chance that my forecast proves to be wrong…

Thanks to my family and friends for their kindness, friendship, love. May you have – against all odds – a blessed 2017! Love you!

© Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com, 2014-6. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without expressed and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.