Gospodinov or the Art of Balkan Melancholy

Aurelian Giugăl (source: YouTube)

A review of the novel The Physics of Sorrow, published in 2021 in Romanian in translation by Catalina Puiu

Aurelian Giugăl

In the third month of autumn, sometime in November 2021, quotes from Georgi Gospodinov’s The Physics of Sorrow appeared in Romanian online social media? (Facebook). A literary critic (or something like that) expressed thoughts about the writer’s puberty and the somewhat intimate relationship between adolescent events and political ones (it so happens that right after the author’s first kiss with a girl Brezhnev died). Another quotation, taken from the novel by a university professor, refers to the year 1952, when, at some anniversary of the University of Frankfurt, Horkheimer appears not only aged but in a frivolous mood, with some carnival objects (what would Adorno say about such allegorical frivolity?).

It should be noted that much earlier, in 2011, the Moldovan publishing house Cartier published Georgi Gospodinov’s Natural Novel in Romanian (published in Bulgarian in 1999). And in 2015, literary critic Florina Pirjol interviewed the Bulgarian writer and noted that The Physics of Sorrow, a collection published in Bulgaria in 2012, had won several major literary awards. In this interview, Gospodinov says that he has met Cartarescu, and plenty of MA and PhD research in Bulgaria is already talking about similarities between the two.

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A novel by Matei Vișniec has been published in Bulgarian

Matei Vişniec (source: Matei Vişniec)

“Shoe loves, umbrella loves” was translated by Ognyan Stamboliev

Matei Vishniec was born under the spiritual sign of Aquarius – in January 1956. He studied philosophy at the University of Bucharest. He worked as a teacher in the village. Since his student days, he participated in a literary circle from which the most important Romanian writers would emerge. They were to form the generation of the 1980s, which shook Romania’s literary and political landscape in the last decade of Ceausescu’s “Golden Age”.

Vișniec also found his way into literature. He was inspired by Kafka, Dostoevsky, Edgar Allan Poe, Dino Buzzati and Lautréamont – modernists, absurdists, existentialists and decadents. He liked the surrealists, the dadaists. He adored the comedies of Ion Luca Caragiale, considered by literary historian George Călinescu to be the greatest Romanian playwright. But Vișniec went beyond Romania, and not just because he emigrated in the 1980s. In his remarkable work, one can feel the influence of plays by Samuel Beckett, Eugène Ionesco – of the theatre of the absurd, of Mircea Eliade’s esoteric fiction, of the magical realism of the Latin American novel, of Anglo-Saxon realist theatre. There is everything but socialist realism!

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What change takes place in Bulgaria?

Vladimir Mitev (source: The Bridge of Friendship)

Vladimir Mitev discusses about the outcome of the November 2021 parliamentary and presidential elections in Bulgaria, anti-corruption, need for revitalisation of Bulgarian politics and corona crisis’ influence on poltica in an interview for the Iranian Labour News Agency

Kamran Baradaran

On 14th and 21th November 2021 Bulgaria held parliamentary and presidential elections, which reconfirmed the prevalence of president Rumen Radev in Bulgarian politics and gave credit to the newly-formed anti-corruption party Change Continues to try forming a government. In this context the Iranian Labour News Agency interviewed Vladimir Mitev, trying to find out more about the essence of “change” in Bulgaria, about the political meaning of anti-corruption, Bulgarias’ political apathy and the role of corona crisis in all that. The interview was published on 8th December 2021 at ILNA’s website. 

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The Romanian recovery and resilience plan is the linchpin in the government of the “old parties”

Romania will receive 29,2 bilion euro within the recover and resilience plan. It is expected to elevate her to the status of a middle-ranking EU country (source: screenshot, Ministry of Investment and European Projects)

Vladimir Mitev was a guest on the Bulgarian TV Europe in a conversation about the newly formed Romanian government of General Nicolae Ciuca, about the Romanian recovery and resilience plan, about the Bulgarian-Romanian economic and human relations

Dimitar Vuchev

This text is a transcription of the interview for the Business Diary programme, which was broadcast live on 30 November 2021 on TV Europe (Bulgaria). The video was provided to the blog “The Bridge of Friendship” by TV Europe.

The interview is subtitled in English
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Paola Georgieva: There is a great desire among Bulgarian pupils and students to study Romanian

The poster of the film “If I Want to Whistle, I Whistle” (left – source: Wikipedia) and the cover of the Romanian edition of Vladimir Levchev’s book “Love on the Square” (source: Simona Poclid, Facebook)

Interview with a Romanian language teacher about her experiences and impressions of Bulgarian-Romanian cultural interactions and interest in Romanian culture in Bulgaria

Vladimir Mitev

Paola Georgieva is a graduate in Romanian philology at the Faculty of Classical and New Philology of Sofia University. She holds a master’s degree in translation-editing in Romanian at the Faculty of Slavonic Philology of the same university. She is currently a teacher of Romanian at the Mihai Eminescu High School with teaching in Romanian Language, Sofia. She is also a lecturer in Romanian language at the Department of Romanian Philology of the University of Sofia. She does translation and interpretation services from and into Romanian.

The Bridge of Friendship Blog contacted her after she began a new direction of her Romania-related work – film translations into Bulgarian.

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Bulgarians both look for capitalism with modern face and are skeptical towards change

Change Continues’ leaders Kiril Petkov and Assen Vassilev (source: YouTube)

The 14 November 2021 parliamentary elections in Bulgaria gave political space to a new party that promises change. Vladimir Mitev discusses about change and status-quo in an interview for the Polish site Strajk.eu

With much of the votes at the parliamentary elections in Bulgaria that took place on 14 November 2021, there is a clear winner – the anti-graft party Change Continues. Its political intentions deal with modernisation of the country in a number of domains, with judicial reform being one of the priorities. The Bridge of Friendship blog has written a number of articles on the Bulgarian protests of 2020, which were the beginning of the fall of the government of Boyko Borissov. Following the 4 April 2021 parliamentary elections a interim government was formed by the president Rumen Radev, in the conditions in which the post-Borissov political elites are unable to agree on a clear majority in parliament. The 14 November 2021 elections were the third parliamentary elections for this year and it is still not clear whether the political crisis will be overcome after them. 

Change Continues – the newly established party, took more than 25% of the votes. Boyko Borissov’s GERB remained second with more than 22% support. The Movement for Right and Freedoms – a political party, supported by the Turkish minority, but also having an important Bulgarian businessmen in its list, is the third force with a bit over 13% of the votes. It is followed by the Bulgarian Socialist Party, which got a bit over 10%. Then comes the formation of the showman Slavi Trifonov “There is Such a People” (over 9,5%), Democratic Bulgaria (a party of the urban middle class – a bit over 6% and the party Revival (less than 5%), which run on discourses of patriotism, anti-vaccination and critique of Western integrationists circles.

On the same day presidential elections were held – with the incumbent president Rumen Radev being unable to win them at the first round, but having a large distance from the second candidate – the rector of the University of Sofia. The Bridge of Friendship blog will probably reflect on the Bulgarian political situation after the election of the new president in other articles. What we offer now is an interview, which was given to Strajk.eu – a Polish progressive outlet. The interview was done by Malgorzata Kulbaczewska-Figat – a Polish journalist specialist in matters of Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe. 

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“The Battle of Stalingrad” for Skopje led to the resignation of Prime Minister Zoran Zaev

The tests before North Macedonia on its path of affirmation in the world continue (source: Pixabay, CC0)

Bulgaria actively supported the processes that led to Zaev’s downfall and the expected coming to power in Skopje of a new majority

Nikolai Krastev

This article was published on The Foreign Insider on 1 November 2021.  

The Social Democratic Union of neighbouring Macedonia, led by Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, lost the race for mayor of the capital Skopje.

Skopje’s incumbent mayor, Petre Shilegov, trailed significantly behind Danela Arsovska, who was backed by the opposition VMRO-DPMNE party. VMRO-DPMNE candidates also won in other key North Macedonian cities such as Ohrid, Bitola, Resen, Gevgelija and Kratovo.

In Ohrid and Bitola, voter turnout reached over 60%. The battle for Skopje became a kind of “Stalingrad” for both North Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev and the leader of the main opposition party VMRO-DPMNE – Christian Mitskoski.

In the end, Arsovska won by 28,000 votes over Shilegov. She will also be the first woman mayor of Skopje, 30 years after North Macedonia broke away from the former Yugoslavia and embarked on the road to independence.

The run-off was the most hotly contested part of the local elections.

The main mistake of Prime Minister Zaev and the ruling SDSM party was to play the Bulgarian card and announce that Danela Arsovska has Bulgarian citizenship.

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