Gospodinov, Georgi 1968–
Gospodinov, Georgi 1968–
PERSONAL: Born 1968, in Yambol, Bulgaria.
ADDRESSES: Agent—c/o Dalkey Archive Press, ISU Campus 8905, Normal, IL 61790-8905.
AWARDS, HONORS: Recieved literary awards for Lapidarium, Chereshata na edin narod, and Estestven roman; Bulgarian Actor's Union Icarus award for best dramatic text of the year, for D.J.
Lapidarium (poetry), Modus Stoianov (Bulgaria), 1992.
Chereshata na edin narod (poetry; title means "The Cherry-Tree of One People"), Svobodno poetichesko ob-vo (Sofia, Bulgaria), 1996.
Estestven roman (novel), Korporatsiia Razvitie (Sofia, Bulgaria), 1999, translated by Zornitsa Hristova as Natural Novel, Dalkey Archive Press (Normal, IL), 2005.
I drugi istorii (short stories), Izdatelska Kushta Zhanet-45 (Plovdiv, Bulgaria), 2001.
(Editor) Dimitur Kenarov, Putuvane kum kukhniata (poetry), Izdatelska kushta "Zhanet-45" (Plovdiv, Bulgaria), 2001.
(Editor) Mario Koev, Quasi (poetry), Izdatelska Kushta Zhanet-45 (Plovdiv, Bulgaria), 2002.
Pisma do Gaustin (poetry; title means "Letters to Gaustin"), Izdatelska Kushta Zhanet-45 (Plovdiv, Bulgaria), 2003.
Author of play D.J., staged in Sofia, Bulgaria.
SIDELIGHTS: Bulgarian poet and novelist Georgi Gospodinov is best known in America for his first novel to be published in English, Natural Novel. Originally released in Bulgaria as Estestven roman, the novel was celebrated by critics and readers. "Critics pronounced it 'the first novel of the 90's generation—by birth and by fame,'" the author told online interviewer Ana Lucic for the Center for Book Culture, describing the book's reception in Eastern Europe. "There were an incredible number of reviews, academic interpretations, even BA and MA theses not only in Bulgaria but also in Polish, Russian, and German universities. Natural Novel was included in the programs of several Slavic departments. So, believe it or not, the volume of texts about the novel overwhelmed the novel itself."
Natural Novel in many ways epitomizes postmodernist literature, accomplishing its goals not by telling a story, but by consciously not telling a story. It "plac[es] disparate pieces of everyday life next to one another," explained Heather Wright in a Library Journal review, "and let[s] them reveal their native connections." Although there is a tentative plot—an author named Georgi Gospodinov (who may or may not be the author of Natural Novel) divorces his wife because she is carrying another man's child—most of the book consists of a series of thoughts and incidents, which may or may not be related to one another. "Without the usual anchors," a Publishers Weekly reviewer declared, "the novel turns into a work of small strokes and minor wit." The small elements of the novel become meaningful through their association with one another. For example, Gospodinov's "attempt to write a 'natural history of the toilet, if only to crack the enforced silence around the subject,'" noted a Kirkus Reviews contributor, "becomes a metaphor for the constricting inadequacy of language itself." "Given the cuckold's predicament," Ed Park concluded in Village Voice, "it's no wonder the book presents as a series of spontaneous abortions."
Critics saw Gospodinov's novel not merely as a literary commentary on the experience of the postmodern novelist, but also as a reflection of the post-communist world of 1990s Bulgaria. "The true value of 'Natural Novel,'" maintained World Literature Today contributor Katia Mitova in a review of the novel in its original language, "… lies in its representation of everyday life in postcommunist Bulgaria as an amalgam of the mediocre and sublime." A reviewer for the London Guardian concluded that what is most impressive here "are Gospodinov's candid, rarely glimpsed snapshots of life in post-communist Bulgaria." "The hero of this novel," the author confided to Lucic, "faces the problem of finding some meaning, some reasons and motivation to continue to live after a dark apocalypse. And this, I think, is one of increasingly important themes of life in a world of global loneliness."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Believer, June, 2005, review of Natural Novel.
Guardian (London, England), February 19, 2005, review of Natural Novel.
Kirkus Reviews, December 1, 2004, review of Natural Novel, p. 1106.
Library Journal, February 1, 2005, Heather Wright, review of Natural Novel, p. 68.
New Yorker, March 14, 2005, review of Natural Novel.
New York Times, June 5, 2005, Anderson Tepper, review of Natural Novel.
Publishers Weekly, January 31, 2005, review of Natural Novel, p. 50.
Village Voice, March 28, 2005, Ed Park, review of Natural Novel.
World Literature Today, winter, 2001, Katia Mitova, review of Estestven roman, p. 169.
Center for Book Culture Web site, http://www.centerforbookculture.org/ (August 31, 2005), Ana Lucic, "An Interview with Georgi Gospodinov."