Tag Archives: Ivan Hristov

Bulgarian Literature Month 2016 – How to participate

June 2016 will be Bulgarian Literature Month at Mytwostotinki’s – and some other bloggers and readers have announced that they intend to join. What about you – yes, YOU? (You see I can be very persistent when it comes to Bulgarian literature)

There are actually no real rules, just a few guidelines – reading and reviewing should be fun.

So, this is what I have in mind:

If you are a blogger and you want to join, publish your blog post(s) for Bulgarian Literature Month preferably in June until mid-July. It will help me to track down all participants easily when you send me a short message here, when you use the hashtag #BulgarianLitMonth2016, or when you link to this post when you publish your review on your own blog.

If you are a reader without your own blog: some book bloggers (including myself) are open to publish occasionally guest posts; so if you want to join, let me know and maybe I can publish your review here. By the way, blogging is easy and why you don’t consider to use this occasion to starting your own book blog?

And, your posts need not to be necessarily reviews, any book (and Bulgaria) related content is welcome. Your posts should be preferably in English (I won’t exclude blog posts in German or French as well).

Among all participants I will choose one that will be awarded another giveaway.

Talking about giveaways – there are two books I want to give to those who are interested. I have a copy of Virginia Zaharieva’s novel 9 Rabbits, translated by Angela Rodel, Istros 2012), a book I enjoyed very much; the other book I am giving away is a bi-lingual poetry collection: Ivan Hristov – American Poems (translated by Angela Rodel, DA Poetry Publishing 2013); I have translated some of the poems into German some time ago on this blog. This second book is a bit difficult to find outside Bulgaria and is already a kind of rarity.  Just leave me a note here until 12:00 p.m. Sofia time next Saturday (May, 21) and let me know in which of the two you are interested. The winners will be announced next Sunday.

Good luck and good reading – I am looking forward to your participation in Bulgarian Literature Month 2016!

© 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.

Bulgarian Literature Month 2016 – a few suggestions

As already announced some time ago, Mytwostotinki will host a Bulgarian Literature Month in June. In case you are a reader with or without blog, here are a few suggestions for that month in case you want to participate. Additional suggestions and information on how to participate will follow very soon.

Very little is available in print in English language from the non-contemporary Bulgarian belletristic literature. Among the classical works presently available in print are:

Ivan Vazov: Under the Yoke (various editions available) – the most famous classical work in Bulgarian and the first Bulgarian novel, written 1888 and based on Vazov’s own experience and historical events related to the so-called April uprising against the Ottoman rule. Full of action and romanticism, a story that is still read by almost every Bulgarian (usually at school) and that is therefore having a great influence on how Bulgarians see their own history (and themselves).

Aleko Konstantinov: Bai Ganyo (University of Wisconsin Press 2010) – originally published 1895; the adventures and misadventures of the rose oil trader Bai Ganyo are a satirical masterpiece. Bai Ganyo knows always where to find a free lunch in Vienna, Dresden, Petersburg and how to bribe, bully and rig elections in Bulgaria. No wonder not all Bulgarians like this book and its author (who was murdered in 1897), especially since not all has changed very much since Bai Ganyo’s days.

By the same author, a travel account – one of the first by Bulgarian authors:

Aleko Konstantinov: To Chicago and Back (Abm Komers 2004)

The poet Nikola Vaptsarov had a short and tragic life. His poems are available in English:

Nikola Vaptsarov: Kino (ed. Georgi Gospodinov) (Smokestack Books 2014)

The grand old lady of Bulgarian literature was without doubt Blaga Dimitrova. Available by her:

Blaga Dimitrova: Forbidden Sea (2002), and Scars (2003), both by Ivy Press Princeton – Dimitrova was one of the most beloved and prolific writers in Bulgarian language after WWII and after the fall of communism she was for some time Vice-President of the country. Two of her longer poems are available in bi-lingual editions. Dimitrova wrote also prose but in this moment, none of her works in prose seems to be available.

Since we are at poetry, here are a few more titles (mostly in bi-lingual editions):

Konstantin Pavlov: Capriccio for Goya
Konstantin Pavlov: Cry of a Former Dog
Alexander Shurbanov: Frost-Flowers
Danila Stoianova: Memory of a Dream
Edvin Sugarev: Secret Senses
Edvin Sugarev: Kaleidoscope (all titles by Ivy Press Princeton)

Shearsman Books, another small publisher, has two Bulgarian poetry books:

Tzvetanka Elenkova: The Seventh Gesture, and
At the End of the World – Contemporary Poetry from Bulgaria (ed. Tzvetanka Elenkova)

Translator is in both cases Jonathan Dunne who is with Tzvetanka Elenkova, his wife, also the publisher of Small Stations Press.

Another excellent anthology of Bulgarian poetry:

The Season of Delicate Hunger (ed. Katerina Stoykova-Klemer), Accents Publishing 2014

The following poetry works are published by small publishers – if you are interested in them let me know; these books are probably not available via the usual distribution channels in your country:

Boris Hristov: Book of Silence (Mythographies, 2008)
Ivan Hristov: American Poems (DA, 2013)
Kiril Kadiiski: Poetry (Sofia University Press, 2006)
Toma Bintchev: The Sea is Blue (Augusta 2008)
Dimitar Minkov: Contemplation (Initsiali 2014)
Karol Nikolov: Shared Spaces (ZOF 2009)
Lyubomir Nikolov: Street Poems (Carnegie Mellon University Press 2005)
Kristin Dimitrova: A Visit to the Clockmaker (Southword Editions 2005)

German readers can also try:

Elin Rachnev: Zimt (Leipziger Literaturverlag 2012)
Anna Zlatkova: fremde geografien (edition exil 2014)
Tzveta Sofronieva: Gefangen im Licht (Biblion 1999)
Boris Paskov: Zehn Traumgespanne (Biblion 2001)
Gerhard Gesemann(Hg.): Zweiundsiebzig Lieder des bulgarischen Volkes (Biblion 1996)
Radoj Ralin: Späte Brombeeren (Avlos 1999)
Mirela Ivanova: Versöhnung mit der Kälte (Das Wunderhorn 2004)
Pejo Jaworow: Den Schatten der Wolken nach (Weihermüller 1999)

The most renowned contemporary Bulgarian writer is Georgi Gospodinov. His two excellent novels (The Physics of Sorrow was just nominated for the Best Translated Book Award 2016) and a book with stories are available in English:

Natural Novel (Dalkey Archive Press 2005)
And Other Stories (Northwestern University Press 2007)
The Physics of Sorrow (Open Letter Books 2015)

Gospodinov is translated in many languages. In German the following books by him are also translated:

8 Minuten und 19 Sekunden (Droschl 2016)
Kleines morgendliches Verbrechen (Droschl 2010)
Gaustin oder Der Mensch mit vielen Namen (Wieser 2004)

The other internationally well-known name in translated contemporary Bulgarian literature is Alek Popov. His two fast-paced novels (the first one previously reviewed by me favourably) contain a lot of – sometimes black – humour, and it is not surprising that the first one was already adapted as a successful movie:

Mission London (Istros Books 2014)
The Black Box (Peter Owen Books 2015)

Again, German readers have more choices. Apart from the two books just mentioned they can also read the following by the same author:

Für Fortgeschrittene (Residenz 2009)
Schneeweisschen und Partisanenrot (Residenz 2014)

One of the most interesting female authors from Bulgaria is Virginia Zaharieva. As regular readers of this blog will remember, I enjoyed her first and so far only novel a lot:

Nine Rabbits (Istros Books 2012; Black Balloon Publishing 2014)

A publishing house that has various translated titles in his excellent program is Open Letter Press. Apart from The Physics of Sorrow it published also an excellent novel by Zachary Karabashliev (favourably reviewed by me):

18% Grey (Open Letter 2013)

Other titles from Open Letter Press:

Angel Igov: A Short Tale of Shame (Open Letter Books 2013) – Igov is one of the most interesting younger Bulgarian authors. His second – and so far untranslated – novel Krotkite was recently nominated as Best Bulgarian novel 2015.

Milen Ruskov: Thrown into Nature (Open Letter Books 2011) – a brilliant picaresque historical novel

Albena Stambolova: Everything Happens as it Does (Open Letter Books 2013) – a novel that was not completely unjustified compared to Albert Camus’ The Stranger.

Georgi Tenev: Party Headquarters (Open Letter Books (Open Letter Books 2016) – a novel about the turbulent time of transition in Bulgaria in the 1980s and 90s.

Deyan Enev is one of the masters of Bulgarian short prose. One of his collections is translated in English:

Circus Bulgaria (Portobello Books)

The following two books by Bulgarian publishers are maybe not great literature, but light and humorous summer reads:

Boyan Bioltchev: Varoe’s Amazon (Bulgarian Bestseller 2007)
Mikhail Veshim: The English Neighbour (Siela 2015) – a must-read for all foreigners who plan to buy a house in the Bulgarian countryside and want to live there

A young author that published a story collection whose main protagonist is the city Sofia itself – I like this book very much:

Alexander Shpatov: #LiveFromSofia (Siela 2014)

Another book by the same author is available in German:

Fussnotengeschichten (Wieser 2010)

Nikolay Fenersky is another interesting writer of short stories. The following short book is available as an ebook:

The Apocalypse is a Private Affair (Fenersky 2014)

Ludmila Filipova is a bestseller author in Bulgaria, her most popular book available in English is:

The Parchment Maze (Create Space 2013)

Another popular book is this novel about a Bulgarian emigrant in Paris:

Marko Semov: The Price (Bulgarian Bestseller 2006)

Dimitar Tomov has published a collection of Gypsy stories that is available in English:

The Eternal Katun (Bulgarian Bestseller 2004)

One of the most remarkable Bulgarian movies of the last decades is Dzift by Javor Gardev. This film noir is based on an equally remarkable novel I can recommend heartily:

Vladislav Todorov: Zift (Paul Dry Books 2010)

Many good Bulgarian authors are not translated in English, some not at all. German readers are comparatively lucky, since they have access to excellent authors such as Vladimir Zarev, Lea Cohen, or Christo Karastojanov, to name just a few. Here is an overview without further comments regarding some more remarkable titles available in German translation:

Bozhana Apostolowa: Kreuzung ohne Wege (Dittrich 2010)
Boika Asiowa: Die unfruchtbare Witwe (Dittrich 2012)
Dimitar Atanassow: Die unerträgliche Freiheit (Dittrich 2012)
Lea Cohen: Das Calderon-Imperium (Zsolnay 2010)
Georgi Danailov: Ein Haus jenseits der Welt (Wieser 2007)
Kristin Dimitrova: Sabazios (IG Elias Canetti)
Thomas Frahm (Hg.): Gegenwarten: Bulgarische Prosa nach 1989 (Chora 2015)
Georgi Grozdev: Beute (IG Elias Canetti)
Georgi Grozdev: Unnütz (IG Elias Canetti)
Konstantin Iliev: Die Niederlage (IG Elias Canetti)
Jordan Iwantschew: Die Farben des Grauens (Dittrich 2011)
Jordan Jowkow: Ein Frauenherz (Biblion 1999)
Christo Karastojanow: Teufelszwirn (Dittrich 2012)
Viktor Paskow: Autopsie (Dittrich 2010)
Palmi Ranchev: Der Weg nach Sacramento (Dittrich 2011)
Maria Stankowa: Langeweile (Dittrich 2010)
Kalin Terziyski: Alkohol (INK Press 2015)
Kalin Terziyski: Wahnsinn (IG Elias Canetti)
Todor Todorov: Hexen, Mörder, Nixen, Dichter (Größenwahn Verlag 2012)
Angel Wagenstein: Leb wohl, Shanghai (Edition Elke Heidenreich bei C. Bertelsmann)
Angel Wagenstein: Pentateuch oder Die fünf Bücher Isaaks (btb 2001)
Vladimir Zarev: Familienbrand (dtv 2013)
Vladimir Zarev: Feuerköpfe (dtv 2014)
Vladimir Zarev: Seelenasche (dtv 2015)
Vladimir Zarev: Verfall (Kiepenheuer & Witsch 2009)

In a second blog post I will give very soon a few recommendations related to books by Bulgarian authors writing in a foreign language, and also a few non-fiction book recommendations related to Bulgaria.

A third blog post will give finally additional information on how you can participate in the Bulgarian Literature Month – and stay tuned: there will be also some giveaways!

PS: In case you are a publisher – you can contact me for more information on the books and authors, sample translations and translation rights’ information.

© 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.


Vier Gedichte von Ivan Christov


Всичко това се случи
на брега на едно езеро
в щата Уисконсин,
когато Лари ми предостави
своята къща за гости.
Малка къща
с фотоси по стените,
с баня, кухня и тоалетна,
с пиано, пишеща машина
и хол.
Лари тогава не знаеше,
че преди това бях живял
в семейство Василеви,
които много се страхуваха
да не стана алкохолик,
макар че синът им беше
алкохолик и една нощ
ми открадна телевизора.
После бях живял в Крум.
Когато влязох в неговата баня
съседката се разкрещя,
че има вода в коридора
(Мисля, че Крум не се беше
къпал от десет години.).
Лари не знаеше още,
че бях живял в Симон,
на улица Раковски.
Стаята беше хубава,
но нямаше прозорци.
Купих една малка лампа,
която включвах нощем,
за да не се събуждам
като в ковчег.
Бях живял дори в едно мазе,
в казармата,
с Гонзо – кръгъл сирак,
който всяка сутрин
отваряше очи
и запалваше цигара.
Приятелю, Лари,
колко неща не знаеш!
Благодаря ти,
че ми предостави
твоята къща за гости.
Благословен бъди,
че пиша сега тези стихове
на твоята пишеща машина!


All das geschah
am Ufer eines Sees
im Staate Wisconsin
als Larry mir sein
Gästehaus überließ.
Ein kleines Haus
mit Fotos an den Wänden,
mit einer Dusche, Küche und Toilette,
mit einem Klavier, einer Schreibmaschine
und einem Wohnzimmer.
Larry wusste damals nicht,
dass ich bei den Vassilevs
gelebt hatte,
die sehr fürchteten,
dass ich Alkoholiker werden würde,
obwohl ihr Sohn
Alkoholiker war und eines Nachts
meinen Fernseher stahl.
Dann wohnte ich bei Krum.
Als ich sein Bad benutzte
kreischte die Nachbarin unter uns, 
dass ihr Flur überflutet sei.
(Ich glaube nicht dass Krum
in zehn Jahren ein Bad genommen hatte.)
Larry wusste auch nicht,
dass ich bei Simon gewohnt hatte,
in der Rakovski-Strasse.
Es war ein schönes Zimmer,
hatte aber keine Fenster.
Ich kaufte eine kleine Lampe,
die ich nachts einschaltete
so dass ich nicht
wie in einem Sarg aufwachen würde.
Ich lebte sogar in einem Keller,
in der Kaserne
mit Gonzo – einem rundlichen Waisen,
der jeden Morgen
seine Augen öffnete
und eine Zigarette ansteckte.
Larry, mein Freund,
es gibt so vieles was du nicht weißt!
dass du mir
dein Gästehaus überlässt.
Gesegnet seist du,
dass ich jetzt diese Verse
auf deiner Schreibmaschine schreibe!



Бял „Шевролет“,
модел 1990!
Хвърли ми ключовете
и „Опитай“ ми каза.
Много се зачудих,
защото това не беше
старата кола на баща ми,
който за всяка грешка
ме удряше отзад, зад врата.
Четири скорости?
P – паркиране
R – заден ход
N – „Неутрална“ ми каза
„като Швейцария“
D – напред
Само газ и спирачка!
Когато завъртах ключа
и светлините светваха нощем.
С тази кола обикалях
езерата на Уисконсин.
Езерото „Мокасина“,
„Бурното езеро“,
„Залезното езеро“.
Понякога спирах да снимам
стада елени.
Друг път зареждах.
Натисках педала до дупка
и така откривах Америка.
Бял „Шевролет“,
модел 1990.
Моята първа кола,
макар че всъщност
беше на Дъглас,
баща на жена ми.


Ein weißer „Chevrolet”,
Baujahr 1990!
Er warf mir die Schlüssel zu
und sagte „Probier ihn aus”.
Ich war sehr erstaunt,
weil das nicht
das alte Auto meines Vaters war,
der mich hinter verschlossener Tür
für jeden Fehler verdrosch.
Vier Gänge?
P – Parken
R – Rückwärts
N – „Neutral” sagte er,
„wie die Schweiz”,
D – Dauerbetrieb.
Nur Gas und Bremsen!
Als ich den Schlüssel drehte
erleuchteten die Scheinwerfer die Nacht.
Mit jenem Auto
fuhr ich die Seen von Wisconsin ab.
Moccasin Lake,
Storm Lake,
Sunset Lake.
Manchmal hielt ich an, um Fotos
von Wildrudeln zu machen.
Dann wieder füllte ich den Tank auf.
Ich trat das Pedal durch
und entdeckte Amerika.
Ein weißer „Chevrolet”,
Baujahr 1990.
Mein erstes Auto,
obwohl es tatsächlich
Douglas gehörte,
dem Vater meiner Frau.


Poetry Room

книжарница City Lights
Сан Франциско
                                 На Силвия Чолева

всички ние
във тази мрачна
и леко задушна
poetry room
стая за поезия
и чакаме
кога ли
някой от нас
ще излезе

Poetry Room

Buchhandlung City Lights
San Francisco
                           Für Silvia Choleva

wir alle
in diesem finstern
und etwas stickigen
poetry room
raum für dichtkunst
und warten
jemand von uns
hinausgehen wird



Срещнах Сникърс
пред една врата
в щата Минесота.
всички кучета в Америка
се казват Сникърс,
така че ще ви бъде трудно
да си го представите,
но не това сега
е най-важното.)
Огрян от оскъдното зимно слънце
той ми подаваше
малка гумена топка.
Хвърлих топката
и Сникърс я донесе.
После пак, и пак, и пак…
Изведнъж забелязах,
че някъде там, в далечината
кучето спира
и отказва да донесе топката.
От Дъглас разбрах,
че това е електрическа нишка,
която пази Сникърс
от близката магистрала.
Почувствах го близък
този приятел
в неговия невидим затвор.


Ich traf Snickers
vor einer Tür
im Staate Minnesota.
heissen alle Hunde in Amerika Snickers,
deshalb wird es schwer für euch
ihn sich vorzustellen,
aber das ist nicht
das wichtigste jetzt.)
Gewärmt von der schwachen Wintersonne
brachte er mir
einen kleinen Gummiball.
Ich warf den Ball
und Snickers brachte ihn zurück.
Immer und immer und immer wieder…
Immer weiter weg…
Plötzlich bemerkte ich,
dass irgendwo dort in der Entfernung
der Hund innehielt
und sich weigerte, den Ball zu bringen.
Douglas erklärte mir,
dass dort ein elektrischer Zaun sei
um Snickers
vor der nahen Autobahn zu schützen.
Ich fühlte mich ihm nahe,
jenem Freund,
in seinem unsichtbaren Gefängnis.

Иван Христов: Американски поеми / Ivan Hristov: American Poems, Bulgarian-English, English translation by Angela Rodel, DA, Sofia 2013

Aus dem Bulgarischen von Thomas Hübner

© Ivan Hristov and DA Publishers, 2013.
© Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com, 2014-5. 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.

Par Avion

Some time ago I introduced the Bulgarian poet Vladislav Hristov here with some examples of his poetic craft. As regular readers of this blog will know already, I take a particular interest in Bulgarian literature and am frequently reviewing books by Bulgarian authors who deserve it to be read also outside their country. In the field of poetry it seems that Bulgaria has an abundance of talents, but the same goes also for the short prose. And with Georgi Gospodinov Bulgaria has now a writer that “plays in the Premier League” of World Literature – when this sporty metaphor is allowed in this context.

Today I want to share a few poems by another poet of the younger generation in Bulgaria: Emanuil A. Vidinski. Like Vladislav Hristov, Vidinski is not only creative as a poet. He writes also prose, has published a novel and is the translator of Gottfried Benn and Paul Celan in Bulgarian language. Together with fellow poets Peter Tchouhov and Ivan Hristov, he founded the band Gologan. Recently he founded another band, Par Avion, together with his colleague Peter Tchouchov.

The samples of his poetry are from the slender booklet Par Avion (in Bulgarian language) and give a good idea about his major topics. I let them speak for themselves:



doesn’t cry in public
doesn’t complain
doesn’t sulk at the table
doesn’t talk about herself
doesn’t faint and
doesn’t call 911
doesn’t go to a psychologist
doesn’t cut her veins
doesn’t dramatize herself
doesn’t stop working
doesn’t sink into alcohol
doesn’t give in to desperation
doesn’t fake happiness
doesn’t force laughter
doesn’t keep silent on purpose
doesn’t feel aggression
doesn’t feel pity
doesn’t give up smoking
doesn’t change herself
doesn’t take a vacation
doesn’t hitchhike
doesn’t bear an artificial loneliness
doesn’t surround herself with people
doesn’t start writing poems
doesn’t listen to music differently
doesn’t keep a diary
doesn’t stop reading
doesn’t cease making love
doesn’t lose pleasure
doesn’t give up enjoyment
doesn’t miss out on joy
doesn’t bar her laughter
doesn’t long to abscond
doesn’t run away
doesn’t speak of herself
doesn’t sulk at the table
doesn’t complain

just sometimes
feels an overwhelming desire
to disappear into her palms

(translated by Katerina Stoykova-Klemer)

Малка смърт
не мога да си спомня мириса ти
просто не мога
Little death
can’t  remember your scent
I just can’t
винаги когато цъфнат липите
си припомнят детството
до охлузенотo ти коляно
тam прочете
тam потече
и оттогава не спря да вали
whenever the linden trees blossom
I recall childhood
till your injured knee
there I read
there I flow
and since then it has not stopped to rain
The following poem sums up in a few lines the collective feeling of probably many people in South-Eastern Europe:
са балконът на Европа
На него понякога излизат
да се порадват малко
на гледката
преди отново да влязат
в подредените си стаи
The Balkans
are the balcony of Europe
Sometimes step on it
the Europeans
to take for a little while pleasure
in the view
before re-entering
their orderly rooms

(all other translations by Thomas Hübner)

 The translation “NO.” is taken from the anthology The Season of Delicate Hunger that collects 197 poems by 32 contemporary Bulgarian authors. When you want to have an overview about the contemporary poetry in Bulgaria, then this is the book for you.



Emanuil A. Vidinski: Par Avion, Janet45, Plovdiv 2011

The Season of Delicate Hunger, ed. Katerina Stoykova-Klemer, Accents Publishing, Lexington 2014

© Thomas Hübner and mytwostotinki.com, 2014. 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.