“Our Bitter Beloved Borderless Balkans”: Kapka Kassabova’s Border – by Dorian Stuber

Kapka Kassabova Border: A Journey to the Edge of Europe 2017 (UK: Granta Books; US: Graywolf Press) Halfway through her exhilarating narrative of travels through the borderlands of Bulgaria, Greece, and Turkey, Kapka Kassabova tells the story of the Spring of the White-Legged Maiden, popularized in a nineteenth century poem but dating back much earlier. … Continue reading “Our Bitter Beloved Borderless Balkans”: Kapka Kassabova’s Border – by Dorian Stuber

John Atanasoff – The Electronic Prometheus, by Blagovest Sendov: A Review by Thomas Hübner

John Vincent Atanasoff (1903-1995) was an important American computer pioneer; his father was born in Bulgaria and came to the United States as a young boy. Due to his Bulgarian origin and some factors about which I will speak in this review, Atanasoff had a special relationship to the home country of his father, where … Continue reading John Atanasoff – The Electronic Prometheus, by Blagovest Sendov: A Review by Thomas Hübner

Albena Stambolova’s Everything Happens As It Does: A Review by Jean Ping

Everything Happens As It Does, by Albena Stambolova Translated from the Bulgarian by Olga Nikolova Published in 2002, in English in 2013 by Open Letter Books, winner of 2013 Contemporary Bulgarian Writers Contest Everything Happens As It Does is something of a mosaic whose pieces, some not visibly related, eventually go to make up a … Continue reading Albena Stambolova’s Everything Happens As It Does: A Review by Jean Ping

Georgi Gospodinov’s Natural Novel: A Review by Scott Bailey

Natural Novel, by Georgi Gospodinov (originally published in 1999, English translation 2005 by Zornitsa Hristova, Dalkey Archive Press) "People take pictures of each other just to prove that they really existed" Georgi Gospodinov's first novel begins not with the Kinks lyric quoted above (that shows up on page 55), but with an epigraph from Foucault … Continue reading Georgi Gospodinov’s Natural Novel: A Review by Scott Bailey

The Satire of Alek Popov: A Review by Ellis Shuman

In the opening chapters of Mission London by Alek Popov (Istros Books, November 2014, translated by Daniella and Charles Gill de Mayol de Lupe), the staff of the Bulgaria’s UK Embassy awaits the arrival of the newly appointed ambassador. “They sat fidgeting ... beneath the map of Bulgaria, with its cold pink and yellow colouring. … Continue reading The Satire of Alek Popov: A Review by Ellis Shuman

Three Novels by Nordic Women for the Last Dark Nights of Winter

Just as spring arrives in the northern hemisphere, we turn our attention to a region that values limited supplies of sunshine. Here are three novels by three women—two from Norway, one from Iceland—that radiate with a dark energy more reminiscent of the northern lights than the sun’s warm glow. Love by Hanne Ørstavik (Archipelago; translated … Continue reading Three Novels by Nordic Women for the Last Dark Nights of Winter

Dear World: A Syrian Girl’s Story of War and Plea for Peace

It’s hard for the average Western middle-class child, ensconced in relative safety, to imagine what it must be like to live in a country that is experiencing a revolution. ‘Dear World: A Syrian Girl's Story of War and Plea for Peace’ by Bana Alabed, is a short, compelling book written by a mother and daughter … Continue reading Dear World: A Syrian Girl’s Story of War and Plea for Peace

“Lament for Syria”

  Lament for Syria by Amineh Abou Kerech Syrian doves croon above my head their call cries in my eyes. I’m trying to design a country that will go with my poetry and not get in the way when I’m thinking, where soldiers don’t walk over my face. I’m trying to design a country which … Continue reading “Lament for Syria”

Breaking Knees

  'Breaking Knees': Sixty-three Very Short Stories from Syria is not about refugees or civil war. Nor do the stories involve terrorists. Conversely, Zakaria Tamer’s very short tales take place behind the front door, in living rooms and over coffee, between neighbors, and, most importantly, between the sheets. Relationships between women and men lay at … Continue reading Breaking Knees

Folktales from Syria

  For such a small collection of stories, Folktales from Syria packs an interesting punch for an English reader. Beginning with an introduction by Andrea Rugh, this collection works to inform and educate the reader as much as it does to entertain. In the Preface, Rugh takes the reader through her meeting with Samir Tahhan, … Continue reading Folktales from Syria