GAZETA WYBORCZA, 2019
Wschodni spleen. Czyli nasz. Przedstawiam wam wielkiego Bułgara
THE NEW YORKER, 2015
The Bulgarian Sadness of Georgi Gospodinov
By Garth Greenwell
In December, 2010, The Economist published an article on “the geography of happiness” which declared Bulgaria—at that time (along with Romania) the newest, and perhaps most maligned, member of the E.U.—“the saddest place in the world.” Almost exactly a year later, Georgi Gospodinov, Bulgaria’s best-known writer, published his second novel, “The Physics of Sorrow.” (Open Letter Books publishes an English translation this month.) In interviews, Gospodinov positioned the book as, in part, a response to the Economist article and to broader clichés about the Eastern European temperament: “Ultimately my protagonist is trying to tell a story about precisely this place, the saddest place, and to cope with his own sadnesses. Or at least to put them in order and describe them.” The novel was a sensation in Bulgaria: its first printing sold out in a day, and it went on to become the country’s best-selling book of 2012. It swept the national literary prizes, and in translation was shortlisted for several major European awards, including the Premio Strega Europeo and the Brücke Berlin Preis...
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Jean-Luc Nancy philosophe
Voilà qui est si rare : lire un livre d’aujourd’hui, pour aujourd’hui et pour après-demain - et qui ne veut rien annoncer, rien révéler mais qui parle, simplement, qui nous parle sans être empêtré dans quelque «autofiction» pas plus que dans le «document» ni dans une des poses du jour, ricanante ou évaporée. Bougre ! comme cet air frais vous réveille !
THE NEW YORKER
Gospodinov’s anarchic, experimental début concerns a young writer, the narrator, whose marriage breaks up after his wife becomes pregnant by someone else. But this plot is little more than the framework for a lively assortment of fragments—dreams, lists, projected attempts to write a novel entirely with verbs or a Bible for flies, and a chapter called “Towards a Natural History of the Toilet.” Inevitably, a book that takes such risks occasionally falls on its face; some of Gospodinov’s scatology feels self-conscious, and pop-culture references, presumably intended to seem wised-up and Western, come off as just the reverse. But the hits outnumber the misses, and there is something engaging about the novel’s stubborn refusal to amount to anything. As the narrator announces, “My immodest desire is to mold a novel of beginnings, a novel that keeps starting, promising something, reaching page 17 and then starting again”.
The Times: "Time Shelter" by Georgi Gospodinov review - a warning to Europe and Putin
What if we could escape from our troubling times into a ‘clinic for the past’? Simon Ings finds out in this novel by Bulgaria’s Orwell
The New York Times: What if We Could Relive Our Golden Ages?
By Georgi Gospodinov
Translated by Angela Rodel
One of the more promising treatments for dementia has been “reminiscence therapy,” which employs artifacts and photos to improve mood and awareness. Some have even built “dementia villages,” which recreate settings from patients’ younger days: movie theaters, diners, bus stops. While proponents claim such environments bolster patients’ humanity, others have criticized them as “Truman Show”-style stagecraft.
Underlying these more immersive interventions, of course, is some degree of deception, and not all the memories wrested free are happy ones. The morality of artificially returning people to the past, and the broader question of whether this truly brings solace — whether indulgence in nostalgia is curative or pernicious — is the central question of Georgi Gospodinov’s newly translated novel, “Time Shelter.”
The Guardian: "Time Shelter" by Georgi Gospodinov review – the dangers of dwelling in the past
From communism to the Brexit referendum and conflict in Europe, this funny yet frightening Bulgarian novel explores the weaponisation of nostalgia
This novel could have been a clever, high-concept intellectual game with little by way of emotional investment, but Gospodinov is a writer of great warmth as well as skill.