I've been to Bulgaria twice, separated by a gap of three years, though it feels like I've actually been to two different Bulgarias. This difference is on my mind as I think of how my home country, America, has changed in about the same timeframe. I feel like I've lived in two different Americas lately, and think back to Bulgaria looking for words to pinpoint this sensation.

Wed, 08/05/2020 - 10:14


The White Gentleman decided that the weather was too beautiful this morning to waste the day in everyday nonsense. Therefore, he put on his happy hat and flung the door open with a flourish. He took a deep breath, then stepped onto the street with his left foot. The town was still asleep.

The street was so quiet that he could hear his footsteps. He'd take three steps and then a hop, because walking in an even cadence was boring.

Tue, 06/02/2020 - 16:29


If somebody's heart stops due to a trauma, such as a car accident or a fall, CPR cannot save them. I know this, but I don't know if it is the same with cycling. I know you should ask the victim if they're okay and shake their shoulders firmly between two hands. Jerry is on his back, one foot clipped into a pedal, legs across the frame like he's resting. It is hot and sweat drips from the tip of my nose onto his face when I bend over. I shake his shoulders and ask, Are you okay?

Thu, 04/30/2020 - 08:26


Once upon a time, a husband and a wife lived in a town. They were very rich, but had no children. They were very sad about this.

One afternoon, the wife sat embroidering by a window in their rich house, near the road and kept an eye on the passers-by. She noticed that an apple-seller, pushing a cart with baskets of lovely looking apples, was walking under her window. She stopped the man and asked what the price of the apples was. He said, “I sell each apple for three gold coins, madam.”

Thu, 04/02/2020 - 13:43


Most of the houses in the village were uninhabitable. The residents of the rest of them were old people and Gypsies. On the whole, peace and love didn't exactly reign, but there was tolerance and an absence of extensive problems. The elderly Bulgarians were situated in the upper mahala, and their dark-skinned younger neighbors – in the lower one. The store on the village square was in the middle of the village and served as a linguistic point of contact.

Tue, 03/31/2020 - 07:39


In the empty apartment, he took a shower and looked for a piece of paper and a pen. He found an orange BIC, yellowed graph paper and sat down to write. He hadn't written for years.

Clinical Picture of Nostalgia:

Onset period: Since the beginning of eternity.

Vulnerable groups: Homo Sapiens, of various ages and gender.

Present focus: recently prefers Eastern Europe.

Anamnesis vitae:

Mon, 02/24/2020 - 07:56


I used to live on the last floor, but now I reside on the landing between the last and the next-to-last floor. I don't remember how long it's been. It must be a while, though, since people seem really used to me by now and pretend I don't even exist. For my part, I just sit here, look out the window, and keep mum.

Mon, 12/23/2019 - 09:10


I start forgetting things. Sometimes I remember that I'm forgetting but sometimes I don't so I keep a list. I note the consequences because I think that may provide an incentive for me to remember in the future.

   Forgot: to wear sash.

   Consequence: beaten on soles of feet and pay docked for three days as couldn't work.

   Forgot: to salute the Valide Sultan when she returned to the palace after an excursion to the Sweet Waters of Asia.

Wed, 11/27/2019 - 14:40

HEARSE, TWO RHINOCEROS, An excerpt from a novel

I was there early, so I went up to the second floor restroom. I seized the moment of seclusion, and scraped my own cave painting on the wall. It depicted a group of hunters who had surrounded a rhinoceros. The hunters were wearing suits and ties; it was we, the employees, and the rhino was the Agency. Satisfied with this epistle, I went downstairs.

Wed, 10/30/2019 - 09:55


KARIYA'S PHONE STOPS WORKING SOMEWHERE IN THE air above Hokkaido. He isn't sure what happened; at the beginning of the flight, he switched it – dutifully – to airplane mode when the captain reminded the passengers to do so, but as soon as he lands in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, his phone has stopped working entirely. He presses the power button, the home button, every combination of buttons he can think of, but in the end, even after being plugged into a charger for several hours, his phone is decidedly and irreversibly dead.

Tue, 09/03/2019 - 08:34

40 DAYS, An excerpt from a novel

"Todor, you'll be sorry one day," my mother would say.

"Failure depends on you," my father would repeat.

"Mr. Emanuilov, you've failed the test," my high school math teacher would say haughtily.

"Tosho, you are totally the great evil," Kosey, one of my few friends, would say – the one who would go with me to drink drugstore vodka in homemade cherry compote with the metalheads.

Wed, 05/29/2019 - 11:40

BLIND ORACLE OF MECTAN*, a short story

He is the blind oracle at Unchained Melody Massage Parlor.

He specializes in foot rubs. He can stimulate all kinds of glands with pulls and pricks of the tendon and phalanges.

He can, for example, make a person grow taller by pushing on the well of the big toe, which is the pituitary gland reflex point. Everyone knows this.

He can also tell people's fortunes.

He made his first prophecy on April 26, 1521.

Thu, 05/02/2019 - 11:13


It's difficult to talk about this, it's difficult but someone should do it, the old man wanted only to confess his sins before his death, there was no priest in the village, I had lost my way in the Blue mountain, I heard some voices and went downhill through some thorns, I met some old people and asked them where I was, they were crying like infants, especially an old woman, she turned out to be the old man's wife, she explained everything to me, she didn't tell me where I was, only told me come to confess him, poor man, he shouldn't take his sins to the grave, I agreed, instead of arguing

Wed, 03/27/2019 - 09:23

SHADOW MAKERS, An excerpt from a novel

When she looks up, Finn sees that Murphy is on his porch, feeding the magpie family again. Finn frowns. She hadn't heard the birds make a sound. She wonders if Murphy has been watching her, and feels embarrassed, now, about the things she's done in chalk. But when Murphy sees her watching he smiles as if seeing her for the first time today. He beckons her over, and Finn leaves her chalk pieces and walks across slowly, side-on to the porch so as not to frighten away the magpies he's feeding.

Mon, 02/25/2019 - 16:47


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.

Wed, 11/28/2018 - 11:27

THE MASTER, An excerpt from a short story

It was the winter of 1980, the year of my birth and of my grandfather's death, when Grandma Nelly first put on Dencho's Dress, as she used to call it, and never took it off again. I remember she even used to wear it at night and sleep in it, with her arms crossed over her chest, as though to embrace herself as strongly and as tightly as possible, tucking her fingers underneath her ribcage. When I asked her why she did that, she would smile and say it was a way for her to embrace two people at once—my grandfather and herself.

Wed, 11/29/2017 - 13:33