A Business Trip to Sweden

“Since he had to go on a business trip to Sweden anyway, he decided to use this opportunity to finally get rid of some rather annoying obligation, and to pick up that silly medal from those pedantic academics who were permanently pestering him on the phone and via the media…”

© 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.

Literarisches Quartett: Einer fehlt!?

Hier und da lese ich, wie sehr manchem Maxim Biller beim Literarischen Quartett fehlt bzw. fehlen wird. Also, mir fehlt er nicht, und das ist gar nicht böse gemeint. Eine Literatursendung, bei der vier Kiepenheuer & Witsch-Autoren erstaunlich niveaulos und platt über vier Bücher reden, die bei Kiepenheuer & Witsch erschienen sind, wird mir nicht fehlen, Maxim Biller hin oder her.

(So war’s zumindest, als ich mir diese Sendung zuletzt angetan habe. Erinnerte mich an die “Schimanski”-Schleichwerbung für Lutschbonbons im “Tatort” in meiner Jugend, die allerdings viel subtiler daherkam.)

 

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Vasil Praskov: feiertage

feiertage

am 1. mai
lesen die anarchisten tschechow

die dame führt ihr hündchen vor
trägt einen beutel für die scheisse

am 1. juni bringe ich mich um

———————————-

празници

на 1 май
анархистите четат чехов

дамата извежда кученцето
носи пликче за лайната

на 1 юни се самоубивам

 

Übersetzung aus dem Bulgarischen von Thomas Hübner

Васил Прасков. Слабини

Vasil Praskov: Slabini (Васил Прасков: Слабини), Pergament, Sofia 2015

© 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.

Beim Kardiologen

Beim Kardiologen

Immer und immer wieder
gibt die freundliche Dame
am Empfang
meine Daten in den Computer ein
doch vergebens.
Ich bin Ausländer
und mein Herz
passt nicht
ins System.

Sofia, 10.02.2017

© 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.

Aret Vartanyan: A Breath of Istanbul

A Breath of Istanbul, a novel by Aret Vartanyan, an author whose name I had never heard before, has all the ingredients to make me curious: set in the fascinating city of Istanbul, the story is told by a narrator who comes from a mixed Greek-Armenian family. He has spent years in Greece, but after a divorce the still comparatively young man returns to his birthplace Istanbul. While we readers get to know him, his new girlfriend Zeynep, and his other friends who in a way represent different layers of the Turkish society – there is a couple that is obviously cheating on each other, another (gay) couple, an Armenian craftsman, a Kurdish childhood friend working in the rather shady construction business, but also workers, a homeless boy, a drag queen, and so on – the story picks up speed in the moment when a group of elderly people approach the narrator to help them with a project they dream of: they want to establish a home for elderly people of different ethnic groups and also give those old Greeks and Armenians that left the country but still feel a strong longing for their birthplace, a possibility to live their last years peacefully in the city of their dreams: Istanbul. But the group of elderly people who want to set a good example for the coexistence of people of different ethnic background are not the only one’s to have an eye on the property that would be just perfect for this project…

An interesting story, no doubt. There were parts I really enjoyed, like the description of a visit in Büyükada, the biggest of the Princes’ Islands, which had almost a touch of Cechov, or the childhood memories of the narrator. What put me off on the other side were the fact that the way in which the story unfolded was very conventional and predictable, and also the narrator himself. A narrator of such a novel does not need to be necessarily a nice person, and he can be even unreliable – but it should be at least an interesting character. To me, the narrator of this book was not interesting. We never learn exactly what he is doing for a living – he seems to be something like a writer, although the reader wonders what exactly he is writing, and where exactly does the money come from to enjoy a rather carefree life without ever bothering to have a regular job or to think about how to pay his rent -, on the other hand, everybody (or almost everybody) loves him for reasons I fail to understand. The most gorgeous women want to sleep with him all the time, because, you know, they “feel his vibes”. Well, I am not a woman, and I didn’t feel them. Strangely, also the men in the book fall for his charm, everybody does incredible things, such as the jeweller who hands over a fortune just like that to the narrator, because our narrator guy is just great, and “his” project (which is actually the project of some brave old ladies), and the shady construction “business man” almost immediately becomes a helper in the project, just because he and the narrator turn out to be childhood friends. You get the drift. It’s all so realistic, you know.

The narrator’s opinions and pseudo-philosophical musings about women, love, friendship, life, history, are so full of clichés and platitudes, and at the same time he is so full of himself that it would have reminded me more than once of Paulo Coelho, an author about whose writing I tell you my honest opinion here, even if the name of that dreaded writer would not have been explicitly mentioned twice in this novel.

A little bit more of Orhan Pamuk, and a little bit less of Paulo Coelho, and it could have been a reasonably good book. 

9786053110156: A Breath of Istanbul

Aret Vartanyan: A Breath of Istanbul (transl. by Kader Cekerek), Destek, Istanbul 2015

© 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.

 


Един ден…

Един ден ще гласувам за “DADA, България”…

 

Disclaimer: This is not a political statement.

© 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.

Khairi Hamdan: Entlang der Mauern des Schweigens

Entlang der Mauern des Schweigens und der Ewigkeit
kämpfen die Buchstaben gegen das Vergessen an,
das die Namen der Toten versiegelt,
nachdem der Wind ihr Leben
davongetragen hat.

——————————————————————–

Покрай стените на мълчанието и вечността
буквите се борят срещу забравата,
запечатват имената на мъртвите,
след като вятърът е отнел
живота им.

Übersetzung aus dem Bulgarischen: Thomas Hübner

Хайри Хамдан: един живот не е достатъчен (Khairi Hamdan: ein leben ist nicht genug), Pergament, Sofia 2016

© 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.
© Hajri Hamdan and IK Pergament, 2016
 

“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.