Category Archives: Books

Promoting Bulgarian Literature in the Anglosphere: Interview with Milena Deleva, Managing Director of the Elizabeth Kostova Foundation

The by far most important institution involved in promoting Bulgarian literature in the English-speaking world is the Elizabeth Kostova Foundation. I (TH) am extremely grateful to its Managing Director Milena Deleva (MD), for being so kind to agree to this interview despite her very busy schedule.

TH: Milena, most readers know probably Elizabeth Kostova at least by name. But what is the story behind the Elizabeth Kostova Foundation (EKF)?

MD: The Elizabeth Kostova Foundation (EKF) was established by the American author Elizabeth Kostova who after spending time traveling and researching in Bulgaria, has published a very successful debut novel “The Historian” and has made a generous and cultured gesture to repay a debt to the country she considered inspiration for her novel, by establishing a literary Foundation.

With that said, the Elizabeth Kostova Foundation was established back in 2007 in Bulgaria to promote and support contemporary Bulgarian literature. In 2016 we incorporated 501(c)3 in the US and our mission expanded.

Our work creates a literary nexus between Bulgaria and the United States by providing opportunities for Bulgarian authors and translators in Bulgaria and in the English speaking world, and by putting cultural diplomacy in practice.

Looking back at an entire decade, EKF has added Bulgaria to the Anglophone literary map and has launched many pioneering initiatives such as, creative writing workshops for American and Bulgarian writers, creative writing workshops for high school students, publication of Bulgarian novels in English, Fellowships for Bulgarian literary translators in the US and the UK, Translation Award, Translator Atelier, Curated literary reading series in the US, Literary festivals in the US and in Bulgaria. We also originated the Contemporary Bulgarian Writers website

The combination of all these activities and many unplanned “spillovers” helped the contemporary Bulgarian writers enter the international literary circuit.

TH: Maybe you can tell our readers a few words about your own background and your practical work at the EKF?

MD: Compared to my academic background, I hold MA in Cultural Studies from Sofia University, my work is way more practical. It does have to do with very tangible and actual results such as published books, among other literary publications, as well as other accomplished projects. I also hold MA in Arts Administration from Baruch College in New York. Nowadays, in America, unlike Europe where the notion for civil society is still stronger, nonprofits have to justify their work by breaking society in smaller, often imagined communities. Ironically, these don’t always perceive themselves as such, and the entire community rhetoric becomes a class issue. In this regard, our case is unique. With our work in the US we don’t aim at specific group of people, we aim at the global reader and are looking for creative cross-exposure between generations, established – emerging, local – foreign but also literary – non-literary. In this way, we have been able to cultivate new readership, and this is what is the real uphill battle.

In Bulgaria, we focus on creating professional opportunities for writers and translators, and nurturing context and literary communities, in addition to broadening the audience.

My specific and overarching work is hybrid. I often run projects from inception to completion, planning, programming, producing and securing grants for our programs. Being proactive and looking for opportunities for our main constituencies, including communication are also very important aspects of my job.

TH: According to the Three Percent Database of the University of Rochester, only about three percent of the newly published books in English language are translations, and if we only consider literary fiction, the figures are even smaller. What is on the bottom of this – a lack of interest from the side of the readers, or are publishers shying away from translations for other reasons? Do books by Bulgarian authors face particular obstacles to find a publisher in the English-speaking world?

MD: Yes, according to Bowker company, based on 2004 data, the fiction slice was less than 1% at the time the survey was announced.

Well, some publishers aren’t shying away from translations because this is what they specialize in, international literature is their sole profile.  Some of them are profit, others are incorporated as nonprofit organizations. Regardless of their legal status, normally they publish about ten titles per year, which perhaps corresponds to different variables – the demand, the number of staff, the financial means. Let’s not forget that both Knausgård and Bolaño were discovered by small publishing houses.

However, there are bigger commercial publishers who also acquire translations along with their Anglophone titles. There is a handful of Bulgarian writers who have been published by big publishing houses, two of the three write in English.

Bulgarian books do face numerous default obstacles. First of all, Bulgaria as a country doesn’t have any distinct international presence, then there is inconsistent or no state support at all. In fact, if there are any good news or breakthroughs connected to my homeland in the recent years, they’ve mostly come from arts and culture sphere (not just literature).

Consequently, there aren’t foreign literary agents enticed by representing Bulgarians, nor enough translators who are qualified to translate from Bulgarian to English. I am mentioning the former for two reasons. The translators are not only moving literature from one language to another, they, in many cases, serve as literary agents for international literature.

That is why our Sozopol Fiction Seminars are so important, they create supportive environment and contacts between Bulgarian authors and translators and Anglophone editors and publishers.

This makes our efforts even more important.

The current moment is a turning point for translated literature because many organizations have undertaken advocacy not only through publishing, but also by organizing book tours with international writers, encouraging international literature in the curriculum, and other initiatives such as involving booksellers who do the floor work. We have also organized classroom visits of Bulgarian authors to colleges in New York because the point is how do we establish and maintain literary culture that is friendly to international literature. It is not enough to publish it, the real challenge is to connect it with the ordinary reader. And hopefully, one day soon, have it reach its readership as any other quality literature.

TH: You have established a cooperation with Vagabond, a Bulgarian English-language periodical with high quality content, and also with Open Letter Books, the University Press of the University of Rochester. Can you tell us a few words about these corporations?

MD: Yes, these are our structured and organized partnerships that ensure small but firm flow of Bulgarian literature into the Anglosphere. With Open Letter Books we co-run an annual residency for one Bulgarian translator to spend three weeks in Rochester, working with the Press to refine their current translations, visiting Translation Studies workshops at the University of Rochester. Also, we co-run an annual novel contest, mentioned above.

Vagabond English Monthly provides a platform for a joint presence of the Bulgarian and the English language fellows at the Sozopol Fiction Seminars.

TH: My own perception as someone who lives in the country since 18 years is that nowadays there is a much bigger interest in contemporary Bulgarian literature among Bulgarian readers than was the case when I came to the country first. Apart from this increase in literary output, what has changed in Bulgarian literature in the last two decades?

MD: Yes, for many years, during the transition, home grown writers were sidelined by commercial foreign authors. The game has changed and more novels have been written and published.

More novels have been adopted for the screen or the stage. Novels are discussed on the National television. There are more opportunities for Bulgarian writers to travel and visit international forums. Living Bulgarian writers have entered the school curriculum.

TH: From my experience as a reader of Bulgarian literature in the original language, I get the feeling that a comparatively big number of authors write about topics that seem to be very specifically Bulgarian. Other authors seem to write more in a way that targets not primarily or exclusively a Bulgarian audience. In general I see attempts to become perceived as less “provincial”, compared to what is considered as “contemporary” writing. This goes together with a growing interest from the side of (potential) authors to attend creative writing courses. While this aims at learning the craftsmanship necessary to become an author, my fear is (maybe unjustified) that this may lead to a kind of mainstream literature that is written according to certain standards, but is sometimes lacking a certain freshness. It would be extremely interesting for me to hear a bit more about your experiences with the Sozopol Fiction Seminars the EKF is organizing every year.

MD: I guess the fear from uniform writing is a legitimate one. Very rarely we happen to host American authors who come outside of the MFA programs in creative writing. Even the critics of the MFA system hold a degree from one of the 229 programs in the country (source: Association of Writers and Writing Programs). According to the same data, there is a steady increase in non-academic jobs for writers. In Bulgaria, many writers earn their living in the commercial sphere. This only proves that writing is a fundamental and a transferable skill.

It is one of the reasons why we launched creative writing workshops for high school students, open to teens with interest for writing but not necessarily looking to become writers. Everybody can only benefit from writing well.

Back to the pivotal Sozopol Fiction Seminars…

Our workshop model provides safe space for peer reflection on works in progress and often the instructors themselves offer their own work on the discussion table. Bulgarian workshops are facilitated by Bulgarian writers, Anglophone workshops are facilitated by English language writers. The two groups have opportunity to share their works during one joint workshop session and also during the public readings. This non-didactic structure supports diverse writing aesthetics and styles.

TH: Bulgaria is a small book market with a quite big number of authors who are competing to get the readers’ attention. In terms of, let’s call it “literature infrastructure” that is important for authors, what is the situation in Bulgaria? I would particularly like to know what is your opinion regarding the official policy of the state regarding the promotion of Bulgarian literature (translation grants, residencies, participation in book fairs, etc.)? To me it seems that the main work to promote Bulgarian literature abroad is done by EKF and a few other programs, such as Traduki, and by some courageous publishers – but maybe my perception is wrong?

MD: Unfortunately, your perception isn’t wrong. There are exception and in fact cultivating government officials or introducing them to literature is a bit like cultivating donors but much harder.

The rant about the poor Bulgarian presence at book fairs, the high VAT for books, the limited number of diplomats who realize the role of culture in branding Bulgaria would be a very long one, and it is worth a separate discussion, preferably in Bulgarian language.

It will be extremely helpful if the state recognizes our efforts and supports initiatives like ours more consistently. It will be of mutual benefit because to a certain extent we do the state’s job. Even if we cease to exist some of the good outcomes of our work are irreversible but the literary noise needs to be maintained.

TH: One of the – possible – bottlenecks to see more Bulgarian books translated is the availability of good translators. There are quite a few, and especially Angela Rodel has been instrumental to make Bulgarian literature available to the English-reading audience. Are there any interesting talents among the young translators that are not so well-known yet? How is EKF supporting the translators?

MD: Yes, Angela Rodel has translated two thirds of the novels published within our programs in the UK and in the US. However, we are trying to encourage other translators to choose literary translation as a professional path.

We do this through regular programs, those that are designed to directly support translators are:

Translators Atelier in Sofia, conducted in collaboration with the Bulgarian Translators’ Union as an opportunity for translators to master the art of translation of different fiction genres and language directions.

Translation Residency, an opportunity for one Bulgarian translator to work in one of the premier American publishers of translated literature and workshop their translation with the students of the Translation Studies program at the University of Rochester.

As mentioned before we co-run this program with Open Letter Books, and in 2017 have launched a similar residency at the Norwich Writer’s Center in UK.

Krastan Dyankov Translation Award, a prize given annually for an outstanding translation of a work of contemporary literary fiction from English into Bulgarian.

In addition, EKF’s work creates many other spillovers for translators who have done some work for our programs but can independently submit their work to publications. Also, there are several Bulgarian features / issues, resulting by our activities, for example Drunken Boat, Words Without Borders, Ninth Letter, EuropeNow and there are many more magazines, which have published work by Bulgarian authors and reviews about Bulgarian books as a direct result from encounters in Sozopol.

TH: Is there a book by a Bulgarian author upcoming in English translation at this moment?

MD: The Same Night Awaits Us by Hristo Karastoyanov is the most recent book, published within our programs (January, 2018).

TH: The last question is maybe a bit difficult to answer for you; in your professional quality as director of the Elizabeth Kostova Foundation, you have to be impartial – but as a reader, I would like to know which is/are the untranslated Bulgarian book(s) you would love to see published in English soon?

MD: Ivailo Petrov, Преди да се родя и след това (Before I was born and thereafter).

I hope that after the beautiful work on Wolf Hunt, Archipelago will publish his other iconic novel as well.

TH: Thank you for this interview, Milena! Благодаря!

This interview was first published at Global Literature in Libraries Initiative, 01 June, 2018 for #BulgarianLiteratureMonth.

© Milena Deleva, 2018
© Global Literature in Libraries Initiative, 2018
© Thomas Hübner and Mytwostotinki, 2014-8. 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 with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

News from #BulgarianLiteratureMonth

After the first third of Bulgarian Literature Month at the Global Literature in Libraries Initiative – editor/curator is yours truly -, I can say that it is a lot of work, but also a lot of fun. The correspondence with and reactions of contributors, readers, and even authors are so far very encouraging.

Here an overview regarding the published blog posts until now:

Bulgarian Literature Month – a short introduction
Promoting Bulgarian Literature in the Anglosphere: Interview with Milena Deleva, Managing Director of the Elizabeth Kostova Foundation
The Satire of Alek Popov (by Ellis Shuman)
Georgi Gospodinov’s Natural Novel (by Scott Bailey)
Albena Stambolova’s Everything Happens As It Does (by Jean Ping)
Blagovest Sendov: John Atanasoff – The Electronic Prometheus
“Our bitter beloved borderless Balkans”: Kapka Kassabova’s Border (by Dorian Stuber)
Bulgarian Poetry in English Translation: Anthologies – an overview 
Bulgarian Poetry in English Translation (II): the pre-1944 period
Bulgarian Poetry in English Translation (III/1): the period 1944-1989 – Konstantin Pavlov
Marina Konstantinova: The White Coast

Several of the blog posts have been re-blogged, shared or re-tweeted, some of our reviewers also spread the word, and this little piece by Scott Bailey made me smile (especially the headline of the article).

I am expecting some extremely interesting contributions in the upcoming days. Check it out and spread the word about #BulgarianLiteratureMonth – thank you!

© Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com, 2014-8. 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.

Bulgarian Literature Month started

As announced earlier, I am busy these weeks with editorial work related to the Bulgarian Literature Month at the Global Literature in Libraries Initiative.

The first blog post, a short introduction, was published yesterday. Today there is an extremely interesting interview I could conduct with Milena Deleva, the Managing Director of the Elizabeth Kostova Foundation, the most important institution active in the promotion of Bulgarian literature in the English-speaking world.

For those with an interest in Bulgarian literature, I recommend to follow all the blog posts at GLLI in June. There will be reviews, poetry, interviews, publisher profiles and a few other things related to Bulgarian literature.

Happy reading!

#BulgarianLiteratureMonth

© Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com, 2014-8. 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.

Bulgarian Literature Month: title pick and giveaways

As I have mentioned earlier, the Global Literature in Libraries Initiative is organizing a Bulgarian Literature Month in June, and I will be the editor of this event.

In the meantime, I have already commissioned quite a number of reviews and will also post one or two things myself. However, there are still a number of books that could be included, provided I find a reviewer (preferably a book blogger or someone else who is doing bookish things).

Here is a short list of books which – if you belong to the category mentioned above – are open still for reviewing during Bulgarian Literature Month:

Classics:

Ivan Vazov: Under the Yoke – the first Bulgarian novel, and until today read in school
Aleko Konstantinov: Bay Ganyo – not all Bulgarian love this book, because it is satirically exposing certain elements of the Bulgarian national character (just like not all Czechs love Schwejk!)

A modern classic:

Ivailo Petrov: Wolf Hunt –  

Contemporary Bulgarian literature:

Virginia Zaharieva: 9 Rabbits
Albena Stambolova: Everything Happens As It Does
Angel Igov: A Short Tale of Shame
Zahary Karabashliev: 18% Gray
Hristo Karastoyanov: The Same Night Awaits Us All
Georgi Gospodinov: Natural Novel
Deyan Enev: Circus Bulgaria
Angel Wagenstein: Farewell, Shanghai

Bulgarian-born authors that write in another language:

Miroslav Penkov: East of the West
Miroslav Penkov: Stork Mountain
Kapka Kassabova: Street without a Name
Ilija Troyanow: Collector of the Worlds
Elias Canetti: The Tongue Set Free

Fiction by foreign authors but with a Bulgarian setting:

Will Buckingham: The Descent of the Lyre
Rana Dasgupta: Solo
Garth Greenwell: What Belongs to You
Elizabeth Kostova: The Shadow Land
Julian Barnes: The Porcupine

Non-fiction:

Dimana Trankova / Anthony Georgieff: A Guide to Jewish Bulgaria
Dimana Trankova / Anthony Georgieff: A Guide to Communist Bulgaria
Tzvetan Todorov: The Fragility of Goodness
Mary C. Neuburger: Balkan Smoke
Clive Leviev-Sawyer: Bulgaria: Politics and Protests in the 21st Century
 
The reviews need to be unpublished and preferably in English. Let me know if you are interested in reviewing a book on this list.

I have also a few giveaways. Those will be given preferably to those who commit themselves to write a review of the above mentioned titles. If you are interested in a giveaway (it should be reviewed too for Bulgarian Literature Month), please let me know until 29 April. If several people are interested in a giveaway, I will draw lots.

The giveaways:

Milen Ruskov: Thrown Into Nature – a novel by one of Bulgaria’s most acclaimed contemporary writers
 
Kerana Angelova: Elada Pinyo and Time – “The novel describes the myth of the person who travels through various wombs and embraces, undergoes multiple transformations due to the culture of times, yet never stops expressing the deep faith that above our earthly trials watches the law of love.”
 
Randall Baker: Bulgariana – diary of one of the founders of New Bulgarian University in Sofia; a fun read that gives a deep and sympathetic insight into the Bulgaria of the 21st Century
 
Nikolai Grozni: Claustrophobias – an autobiographical novel of an author that was a wunderkind pianist and a monk in an ashram in India, and a lot of other things
 
Ivailo Petrov: Before I was born – story collection of one of the most important post-WW II authors from Bulgaria (the book is antiquarian, but in very good condition)
 
Hristo Hristov: Kill the Wanderer – Hristov, an investigative journalist, describes the life and the assassination of Georgi Markov, a Bulgarian author and journalist, in London. Considering the recent news about Julia Kristeva, who was exposed as a collaborator of the Bulgarian State Security, it is important to not forget what this institution did to enemies of the system.
 
And now, let me know which book you want to review, and in which giveaway you are interested. (The winners will be informed individually and by a post here on 30 April.) 

© Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com, 2014-8. 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.

 


Goethe’s late love

In 1821, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe planned to visit his hometown Frankfurt am Main and the Rhine valley. After the death of his wife Christiane five years earlier, he hadn’t undertaken any visits far away from home, and his trip to Karlsbad and Marienbad 1820 was for medical reasons. Since Goethe was not in good health then, his doctors prescribed the mineral water of the Bohemian spas which had done the poet and statesman well on prior occasions. A bout of illness prevented the planned meeting with old friends in the West, and the by then 72 year-old Goethe followed the medical advice to go again to Marienbad.

The small book “Goethes späte Liebe” (Goethe’s late love) by Dagmar von Gersdorff recounts what happened in Marienbad. Goethe arrived in Marienbad in good spirits; he was additionally lucky to meet an old acquaintance, the attractive Amalie von Levetzow, an energetic woman in her early thirties, twice divorced, and owner of a representative villa she rented out to guests from the aristocracy and high society. Amalie had married very early and had three daughters; the oldest one, Ulrike, then a 17-year old teenager, caught immediately Goethe’s eye.

Ulrike von Levetzow, 1821 – Pastel by an unknown painter

Ulrike, who was attending a boarding school in France where she got a French education, had never heard of Goethe, and had therefore in the beginning no idea that the old gentleman she met was Germany’s most important poet and at the same time Head of the Government of the small Grand-Duchy Sachsen-Weimar-Eisenach – the Grand-Duke was also an old friend of her mother Amalie. Goethe took no offence and was obviously in the contrary smitten by the natural friendliness and attentiveness of the girl. Soon they went out for walks together, with Goethe introducing many to the girl new topics that covered a wide range of subjects (astronomy, geology, mineralogy, botany, but of course also poetry and literature). In the evening they would sit together on a bench in front of the villa talking vividly, reading or discussing copper plates Goethe had ordered. Also the younger sisters were involved, Goethe attended picnics and dinner invitations with them, danced and had fun.

While Ulrike’s family treated Goethe like a family member, it was for most people in Marienbad a source for permanent gossip to see the transformation of Goethe. While at the arrival he made the impression of an old sick man, he was soon bursting with energy and was visibly rejuvenated; the reason for this transformation was easy to guess. Soon the gossip reached also Weimar, and Goethe’s son August and his wife Ottilie, who lived with their children in Goethe’s house in Weimar were not exactly delighted about the news. But once the summer was over, and Goethe went back to Weimar, things calmed down again, but from letters to his friend Zelter we know that Goethe felt the contrast between the cheerful atmosphere in Marienbad and the cold reception at home by his son and daughter-in-law as rather depressing.

Goethe spent also the summer of 1822, and then again the summer of 1823 in Marienbad. It seems that in 1822, his feelings for Ulrike became so serious that he considered a marriage proposal, despite the age gap of 55 years. When it became obvious to his surrounding, that the old man was serious, tout Weimar was bursting with gossip about this scandal. Schiller’s widow, the Humboldt’s, even Wilhelm Grimm, or Bettine von Arnim from Berlin were sending letters back and forth in which they secretly scolded the foolishness of Goethe. It was not the first time Goethe faced this kind of situation. Similar scandals followed his early relationship with Frau von Stein, and his running away to Italy for two years, leaving behind important state business and a whole town wondering what happened to their most prominent inhabitant (after the Grand Duke, Goethe’s old friend and protector); the small town of Weimar also didn’t accept the fact that Goethe lived for many years with Christiane Vulpius, a woman who was considered as socially inferior, a mesalliance – and on top of it they were not even married! Goethe seem not to have cared very much for gossip, but this time things were different.

August and Ottilie threatened Goethe to desert him and leave, together with their children – if a young woman would enter the house as Goethe’s wife; especially the danger not to see his beloved grandchildren any more was a heavy burden on Goethe’s soul. When the Grand Duke travelled to Marienbad to visit the von Levetzow family and to submit on Goethe’s behalf a marriage proposal, the house at the Frauenplan was almost in a state of war. Cold and harsh were the words August and Ottilie exchanged with Goethe, and he started to feel like a stranger in his own house. Meanwhile, the Grand Duke had not only submitted Goethe’s marriage proposal, he had also explained that in the case Ulrike would live in Weimar, also a house for her family would be built by the Grand Duke; Ulrike would be the First Lady at the court of the Grand Duke; she would receive a generous livelong pension and would be treated like royalty in every respect. Ulrike’s mother made it clear that she would not interfere in her daughter’s decision; while she was very sceptical because of the age gap, it was clear that the proposal was also an honor. Ulrike declined, especially since she sensed that this would affect the peace in the house of Goethe. And of course, we might say, her feelings were very different from that of Goethe.

Ulrike von Levetzow lived until 1899; in that moment she was the last person that knew Goethe personally. She never married, although she received many marriage proposals. A few years before her death, she wrote down a text in which she gave her side of the story. It was no love affair, she claims. Goethe was like a grandfather, a sweet, good-natured man, educating her on many subjects; and he saw in her only a daughter (or grand-daughter). She plays down the seriousness of the matter, but for Goethe, it was definitely much more. What exactly happened between them, we don’t know; they kissed at least on one occasion; and how explicit Goethe made his wish to marry her in his conversations with her, we can only guess. While the decline of the marriage proposal was never formally voiced, Goethe still had hopes, a fact that is also very clear from his correspondence with the girl’s mother. But when in October 1824, Ulrike and her mother were passing by Weimar without stopping to meet Goethe (whom they even saw on the street), we can easily guess that the old man was heartbroken. Still, he kept the correspondence going, and even shortly before his death his thoughts were with Ulrike as we know from letters. 

It was an impossible love, no doubt. And deep inside, we can be sure that Goethe knew it. But still, this love brought him new energy and inspiration and the Marienbad Elegy, probably the most beautiful of his later works is one of the results of this love of an old man to a young girl.

The last stanza goes like this:

Mir ist das All, ich bin mir selbst verloren,
Der ich noch erst den Göttern Liebling war;
Sie prüften mich, verliehen mir Pandoren,
So reich an Gütern, reicher an Gefahr;
Sie drängten mich zum gabeseligen Munde,
Sie trennen mich, und richten mich zugrunde.

(To me is all, I to myself am lost,
Who the immortals’ fav’rite erst was thought;
They, tempting, sent Pandoras to my cost,
So rich in wealth, with danger far more fraught;
They urged me to those lips, with rapture crown’d,
Deserted me, and hurl’d me to the ground.)

(translation by Edgar Alfred Bowring)

Dagmar von Gersdorff: Goethes späte Liebe, Insel Verlag Frankfurt am Main und Leipzig 2005

A classic that covers the same period of time:

Johannes Urzidil: Goethe in Böhmen, Zürich: Artemis, 1962 (1935)

© Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com, 2014-8. 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.

 


Vladislav Hristov: Germanii – jetzt auf deutsch

Der von mir aus dem Bulgarischen übersetzte Gedichtband von Vladislav Hristov ist jetzt auf dem Markt. Wir (die Verleger gemeinsam mit dem Autor) haben das Buch gerade aus der Druckerei in Sofia abgeholt – bald kann man es auch im deutschsprachigen Raum in den Buchhandlungen bestellen. Oder auch direkt bei uns, falls ihr es eilig habt  (In diesem Fall schickt mir hier einfach eine Nachricht.)

Image may contain: 3 people, people smiling, people standing

Von links nach rechts: Vladislav Hristov (Autor), Elitsa Osenska (Verlegerin), Thomas Hübner (Verleger und Übersetzer)

Photo: Stefan Bakarov

Image may contain: sky, ocean, outdoor and text

Vladislav Hristov: Germanii, Rhizome Verlag, Sofia (Übersetzer: Thomas Hübner); der geschmackvolle Einband stammt von Ivo Rafailov. 

Ein paar Stimmen zum Buch: 

Der renommierte bulgarische Dichter Ivan Teofilov schreibt:

“”Germanii” von Vladislav Hristov ist eine bemerkenswerte Lektüre. Diese Zusammenstellung von ausdrucksstarken Fragmenten zeigt eines der größten Probleme unserer bulgarischen Existenz – die Emigration. Keine andere Lektüre zum Thema Emigration hat mich so sehr angesprochen, wie dieses lapidare Drama. Die ungewöhnliche Intensität dieser Poesie, ihre Breite und Tiefe machen “Germanii” zu einem der bedeutendsten Werke unserer zeitgenössischen Dichtung.” 

Die Schriftstellerin und Literaturkritikerin Sylvia Choleva (Literaturredakteurin beim Bulgarischen Nationalen Radio):

“Meiner Meinung nach leistet der Gedichtband “Germanii” viel mehr als der Journalismus zum Thema Emigration. Er dringt direkt und zart in das zerrissene Herz junger Bulgaren von heute ein, die gezwungen sind, sich selbst und die Welt in den extremen und schwierigen Lebensbedingungen im Ausland zu erkennen. Dieses Buch zeigt, dass die Kombination von aktuellen Themen und hoher Poesie nicht nur möglich, sondern in diesem Fall auch hervorragend gelungen ist.”

Der Schriftsteller Palmi Ranchev – im deutschsprachigen Raum vor allem durch seinen Roman “Der Weg nach Sacramento”, Dittrich Verlag 2011, bekannt – schreibt zum Gedichtband “Germanii”:

“Nachdem du nur ein paar Gedichte gelesen hast, fängst du an die Welt mit den Augen von Vladislav Hristov zu sehen. In dieser Welt gibt es mehr Licht, deshalb fällt dir auf, was dir ansonsten entgeht, und du neigst dazu, in Fällen zu vergeben, in denen du sonst gnadenlos bist. Und während er Wahrheiten äußert, ohne große Hoffnung, aber auch ohne Angst, dass niemand sie hört, sind seine Worte nicht gewöhnlich. Sie kommen aus Tiefen, aus denen nur das echte poetische Gefühl sie hervorzubringen vermag.”

Eine kurze, aber interessante Besprechung von Buchbloggerin Lizzy Siddal findet sich auf ihrer Website “Lizzy’s Literary World“.  

Es stehen noch ein paar Besprechungsexemplare bereit; bei konkretem Interesse bitte eine kurze Nachricht an mich.

© Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com, 2014-8. 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.

 


How official Bulgaria is (not) promoting its literature abroad

The second year in a row, I tried to get a copy of the actual edition of the “Catalogue of Contemporary Bulgarian Prose” – and the second time in a row, I failed.

But I am sure, it is much more efficient for the promotion of Bulgarian literature abroad to display a huge number of copies of this almanach – that was especially produced to serve the interest of those abroad who want to publish/promote Bulgarian authors in foreign languages – in “Peroto”, the book cafe in the National Palace of Culture in Sofia, than to hand out one copy to someone who belongs to the target group and makes an effort to get some Bulgarian authors published abroad.

This experience is completely in line with the bleak picture of how official Bulgaria – i.e. the state institution responsible for it – is (not) promoting its literature abroad.

And since I am at it: why was Bulgaria not officially represented in Leipzig, the book fair that is focused on Eastern Europe? Why is the Bulgarian booth in Frankfurt so poor and unprofessional? It is a pity, because these failed efforts are not reflecting what Bulgarian literature has to offer. With the same budget, with an attitude that is a little bit less arrogant, and with a little bit more professionalism it would be easy to achieve something much more effective and sustainable. It’s Bulgarian authors who suffer most from the present situation, and also potentially interested readers abroad.  

© Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com, 2014-8. 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.

 


Старият феномен

Старият феномен. Човек го пише грешно от невежеството, а останалите следват инстинкта на стадото. Но все още се нарича “Канун на Лек Дукаджини” (Kanuni i Lekë Dukagjinit), а не “Канун на Лек Дукагини”. Жалко.

© Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com, 2014-8. 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.

 


Джеф Безос и аз

Един умен потребител на ФБ от Русе разбра най-накрая истината за мен. Истината е: името ми е Джеф Безос и аз съм основният акционер на Амазон и най-богатият човек на света!. Да, не се шегувам. И това е как той разбра: тъй като съм издател на платформа CreateSpace, която наскоро публикува две книги от групата NSP и CreateSpace е платформата за самоиздателство на Amazon, истината зад всичко това може да бъде само: Джеф Безос е издател на Новата социална поезия, а в България Джеф Безос използва псевдонима Томас Хюбнер. Сега се страхувам от адвокатите на този умен човек, който ще направи всичко по силите си, за да ме изгони в Русе, където ще ме поставят в килия, където трябва да слушам цял ден на лента с поезия на този човек. И повярвайте ми, в сравнение с това, waterboarding е парче торта!

© Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com, 2014-8. 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.

 


изненада

аз съм изненадан, че един млад български поет, с когото дори веднъж споделях вечеря и приятелски разговор, и за когото винаги мислих добре, харесва пост на един психически небалансиран човек, който ме нарича свиня, без особена причина. но хей, това са кръговете на българските поети, така че всичко е възможно …

© Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com, 2014-8. 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.