CULTURE

SOFIA, An excerpt from a novel

Of course, with Andrej there was no question of it being anything more serious than sex. We weren't even girlfriend and boyfriend. He never once introduced me as his girlfriend. I was a girl. Not his girl. When we would go out with other people, they were usually foreigners, current or potential clients, very rarely his friends.

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BULGARIAN CLASSICS IN ENGLISH TRANSLATION

Like any other country with a small language, Bulgaria has some fine writers and poets who remain virtually unknown to the world because their work has never been properly translated. (It is an entirely different issue why Bulgaria, unlike other countries with small languages, has done little if anything to sponsor the translation of its authors). People like Pencho Slaveykov, Geo Milev, Nikola Vaptsarov, Elin Pelin and Dimitar Dimov – all fine poets and writers with dramatic life stories, could have become international household names had they written in German, French or Spanish.

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FROM PETERSBURG WITH LOVE, AN EXCERPT FROM A TRAVELOGUE

Russia's former imperial capital captivates visitors with its history,

its culture, and the splendid riches of its palaces

The dark river flows and does not sleep,

it whispers quietly, tells tales to keep,

about tsars, tsaritsas, and their palaces,

about their past of glory and their countless odysseys.

The river knows, it's seen it all, through this enormous town it's always flown,

under many bridges it now runs, so that its loyal night guards they become.

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KAPKA KASSABOVA'S BORDER WINS BRITISH ACADEMY'S PRIZE

Border, her memoir-cum-travelogue about Bulgaria's southeastern frontier from Communism to the present, was published in 2017 to international acclaim. The book explores the history, trauma and memories of a region that brings together three Balkans states: Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey. According to the jury, Border won because it "contributed to global cultural understanding" and "illuminates the interconnections and divisions that shape cultural identity worldwide."

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JEWISH BULGARIA EXHIBITION IN SOFIA

The exhibition covers some of the mesmerising and atmospheric remains of Jewish heritage in Bulgaria: from the mosaics of a 2nd century synagogue in Plovdiv, to abandoned and crumbling synagogues and cemeteries, the only reminders of the Jewish presence in a number of cities where the community left, in 1949-1951.

Before Sofia, the Jewish Bulgaria exhibition by Anthony Georgieff was on in Prague and in London. The exhibition was organised with the support of the America for Bulgaria Foundation and the Embassy of Israel in Bulgaria.

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WHEN WE WERE VIKINGS, An excerpt from a travel essay

The sun doesn't set in the summer there so we played cards for hours in the ceaseless twilight; during the daytime, we hiked an old Viking trail. We carried our backpacks through the wilderness and set up camp each night by rivers and waterfalls. We found a fragment of whale bone on the seashore, curved and large as a giant's tooth. It was porous, but as heavy as the stones surrounding it.

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IN THE SHADOW OF THE DISEASE, An excerpt from a memoir

The day I was admitted to the hospital, I just lay there and stared straight ahead—a piece of paper had been stuck to the closet, and the closet was blocking half of the window. Out its other half, I could see some thick black branches. The piece of paper said, "Inventory of Items in Room 7." I had the surgery the next day. I put on my regular pants because my cell phone, which I'd put on silent, could fit into pocket. As if I'd be able to inform anyone what was happening to me while I was under general anaesthesia… They did a biopsy and the express results came back in about 20 minutes.

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I'VE BEEN WRONG BEFORE, An excerpt from a memoir

I went out for a run one lightly rainy morning – on Halloween, actually. Movement kept at bay the dreadful sensation that the island hungered to swallow me up, annihilate my spirit. And so I laced up, pulled the hood of an old sweatshirt over my head, and ran along the road that served the beach house. Relief came only when the road fed into a park, and the park into trails that twisted through the woods. My sneakers splashed mud up onto my shins and calves.

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