One of the pivotal projects of the Elizabeth Kostova Foundation is the Sozopol Fiction Seminars. Every year at the end of May, writers from Bulgaria and the English speaking parts of the world gather in the historical town of Sozopol on the Black sea coast and immerse themselves in writing workshops and giving readings. This is where this month's featured writers Ivan Dimitrov and Ivan Landzhev met their American colleagues Paul Vidich and Lee Romer Kaplan back in 2010 and in 2011.
In the spring of 2012, the Elizabeth Kostova Foundation was delighted to provide the opportunity for the writers to reprise their performances in front of new audiences in a new environment, New York City. The Bulgarian Consulate became a stage for the two reunion events.
Literary happenings that juxtapose two language cultures are a rare treat, so we had the idea of letting the writers involved share their personal experiences.
Ivan Dimitrov came to New York for the hotInk festival, where his play The Eyes of Others was among the winners. Asked about Ivan's presence, the festival director Catherine Coray said, "Ivan Dimitrov's play stood out among the more than 400 submissions we received for hotINK at the Lark, for its unity of vision, the wittiness of the dialogue (in Angela Rodel's excellent translation) and the obvious compassion Dimitrov has for his characters – they are vain, needy and lost, but, like Beckett, Dimitrov makes it possible for us to see ourselves in his people so that, even as we are laughing at them, we know just how they feel."
With almost no break for Ivan to recover from the success of the staged reading of his play, the Elizabeth Kostova Foundation hosted an event featuring him and his colleague from the 2010 Sozopol Fiction Seminars, Paul Vidich.
We asked both authors to comment on their experience of reuniting in this new setting.
Ivan Dimitrov admitted that this public appearance was his first reading in English. "It was a little bit scary, but fortunately only for me. The audience was amazing. I felt I had their full attention. They were responsive to the text, which is important for every reading. The discussion was funny. In general, I now feel prepared for my next reading in English."
Paul Vidich described how "The wood-panelled parlour floor of the Bulgarian Consulate was an elegant setting for a New York literary reading, as they usually take place in cramped downtown bars – nice, of course, and fun with all the beer, but not elegant. I was honoured to reprise my paired reading with Ivan, whose noir-ish crime story received well-deserved applause."
70 years ago, on 10 March 1943, Bulgaria's pro-Nazi government decided to defy Berlin and halt the deportation of Bulgaria's 50.000 Jews. This was down to the actions of one man - Dimitar Peshev. Just two years later he faced Communist justice and found himself on trial for his life. His niece Kaluda Kiradjieva remembers