27 March, 2023
Books are something sacred for Iranians (photo: Pixabay, CC0)

It presents the new face of the Bulgarian literature

Mohammad Asiabani

This article was published on 13 June 2020 on the site of the Iranian News Agency „Mehr”. 

The compilation of stories „After communism“, written by contemporary Bulgarian writers, was published in Persian language. Its translator is Farid Ghadami.

The Mehr News Agency reports that „After communism“ with Bulgarian short stories, can be bought for 35000 Toumans (5 euro) in the bookshops around the country.

We can read in the remarks at back cover of the book:

“Perhaps some of the Iranians like the taste of Bulgarian sausage, but it is not so probable that somebody in Iran would know the story of a sausage, made from the meat of a donkey in a Bulgarian town, and any young woman who ate from it became beloved of all men’s hearts. And maybe others have heard about the secret actions of Stalin, but it is unlikely that they have heard about a fascinating machine of Stalin, which is made in order to destroy all the world. But in the book „After Communism“ one can read about all those stories.

After Communism is a compilation of short stories from contemporary Bulgarian writers. This is a country, which might be completely unfamiliar for the Iranian readers. But the translator – Farid Ghadami, was a guest to this country on the invitation of the foundation Next Page in 2019, and in this book he has tried to choose and to translate stories, in order to familiarize the readers with the most famous faces of Bulgarian contemporary literature.

Often the writers in this book are famous in Europe too.“

This book has entries from some of the best contemporary Bulgarian stories. It introduces the Iranians to its authors for the first time. Its very strong and outstanding humor is a common feature of all these stories.

Iranian audiences have always paid special attention to the literature of the Eastern Bloc countries, which have gone through the era of communist dictatorship. This book shows them another face of the Eastern Bloc.

Among the most famous Bulgarian writers, who are published for the first time in Persian language are Zdravka Evtimova, Alek Popov and Velina Minkoff.

Zdravka Evtimova was born on 24 July 1959. She is born in the city of Pernik and lives there. This city is located 30 km away from Sofia – the capital of Bulgaria.

Evtimova is one of the most famous contemporary writers of Bulgaria. Her short stories have always been well received by readers and critics in Bulgaria and abroad.

Evtimova’s books have been translated into several languages and published in the United Kingdom, the United States, Serbia, Macedonia, and Greece. Evtimova holds a master’s degree in English language and literature and a master’s degree in American literature. She has also traveled to Iran with Lyudmila Yanova, a leading Bulgarian Iranologist.

The story “Gosho” is the first story of this compilation:

“Don’t waste time. Come to my place quickly! I’ll treat you to a piece of Gosho as soon as you arrive,” my friend Dara called me on my mobile. I listened, hesitating. Yesterday, my husband bought a big knife and said he’d use it to slash my throat. I wasn’t too impressed to be honest with you. Let me first explain the way the whole picture looked.

Gosho was a 21-year-old donkey whose proud proprietor was Dara’s father, Uncle Pesho. The man prepared his cart, then took Gosho and went to steal tiles, scrap iron, sawdust, plus everything else one could lay his hands on in these parts. I was one of the few who knew the truth about the old donkey and I didn’t take pride in that knowledge.

To cut a long story short, it was Uncle Pesho himself who turned Gosho into minced meat and subsequently into sausages. I was well informed about the substantial role these sausages played in our small town.”

Alek Popov (Sofia, 1966) is one of the most famous and most beloved Bulgarian writers today. His first novel “Mission London” was translated into 16 languages and a movie was made from its plot in Bulgaria. It is the most watched Bulgarian movie after communism.

His stories were translated to various languages. They are full of satire. His newest novel is called ”The Black Box”.

Part from the story: ”Nineveh”:

“Have you heard about Stalin?” he asked me.

“Who hasn’t?” I answered. “A great man. Like Napoleon.”

“Napoleon is a shit!” he barked explosively then became serious again: so serious that he even went stiff. “In the end of his life Stalin ordered his subordinates to build a machine…” – he went on hesitantly. “A terrific machine, you know.”

“What is it using for?” I asked eagerly.

“For the destruction of the world”, he said simply.

“Oh my!” I stated dumbfounded. “It’s the first time I’ve heard such a thing!”

“You couldn’t have!” the Russian raised forefinger austerely. “That is a secret.”

“But how do you know about it?”

He held his head between his hands, leaning against the table, and said, “I’ll tell you. Now listen! ”

Velina Minkoff (Sofia, 1974) is one of the other writers in this book. She has a degree in English literature from UCLA (the USA) and European Affairs from the University of Maastricht. Her first book with short stories was published in 2001 in English language. Her first novel was published In Bulgarian: “The Red and Blue Report from Green Amyab” (2011). It is based on her experience in North Korea. This book was translated by Patrique Moros in French in 2018 and was published with another title: “The Great Leader came to see us” (Le Grand Leader doit venir nous voir). Velina Minkoff is known in Bulgaria as Velina Minkova. She lives in Paris.

This is an excerpt from the story “Rat” by Velina Minkoff:

”Jacques remembered how many times Grand-père Robert had told him about his childhood days, when he used to help his father in the dairy shop. They kept the butter barrel down in the cool cellar. One night, someone left the barrel lid askew and a huge rat slipped in. After gorging itself on butter, it apparently found it difficult to crawl back out of the slippery barrel, eventually sinking into the gooey grease. Only its tail was left sticking out. They carefully wiped the butter off its lifeless body and strained it through a cheesecloth to get the hairs out. Then, with a smile, they would sell the butter to the elegant bourgeois ladies with lace gloves up to their elbows who came into the store for a pound of “le frais.” The same ladies would come back time and again; they loved the butter so much. Well, c’est comme ça. That was Paris. Rats were all over the place.”

Farid Ghadami is an Iranian writer, translator and critic. His Iranian audience recognizes him by his novels and critical works, as well as his translations of controversial figures in world literature: he has translated 34 books to date, first translating the works of Beat Generation writers by translating works by Jack Kerouac, Alen Ginsberg and William Burroughs. He introduced them to Iranians for the first time, and last year his translation of the novel “Ulysses” by James Joyce was at the forefront of Iranian literature news.

In 2016, the James Joyce Zurich Foundation selected him as its chosen translator. Also in 2019, he was elected as one of the three most popular translators under the age of fifty in Iran by the Tehran Translators’ Association. Along with writers from the United States, Russia, Germany and Ukraine, Farid Ghadami was selected in 2019 as the guest author of Bulgaria. He spoke at the International Association of Elias Canetti, the Sofia House of Literature and the Burgas Book Fair, as well as in interviews with the Bulgarian National Radio, the Bulgarian Socialist Television and the blog “The Bridge of Friendship”, describing his views on literature. Ghadami is a graduate of Mechanical Engineering and in addition to teaching engineering courses at the university, he has published four scientific books, including “Advanced Engineering Mathematics” for MSc and doctoral students.

Read in Persian language!

Read in Romanian language!

Read in Bulgarian language!

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