Yazova, Yana (1912–1974)

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Yazova, Yana (1912–1974)

Bulgarian poet and novelist who wrote the historical trilogy Balkani, which was published after her mysterious death. Name variations: Lyuba Gancheva. Born in 1912; murdered in 1974; studied in Sofia, Bulgaria.

Born in 1912, Yana Yazova studied in Sofia, Bulgaria, reading Slavonic studies, and began writing while still in school. By the time she was 20, in 1931, Yazova had published her first volume of poetry. The young intellectual, reportedly a great beauty, spent her early adult years traveling in Europe and Asia and developing her theories of national self-sacrifice and martyrdom.

Her cosmopolitan lifestyle came to an end in 1944 when the Communists took over Bulgaria. Yazova, then in her early 30s, was banned from publishing and disappeared from public life. The artifacts she had gathered during her travels became her means of support, being sold off piecemeal for cash. In the turbulent 1960s, a decade before her death, Yazova kept a diary of her thoughts on socialist reality. Titled Zlatni iskri na skrabta (Golden sparks of sorrow), it was written over six years beginning in 1963 as a series of aphorisms.

Yazova was murdered in her apartment in 1974 and most of her papers and her books disappeared. She was 62. What was left of the writer's possessions was auctioned off. The Bulgarian authorities kept silent on the circumstances surrounding her death, although some of her manuscripts were later found in the Central State Archives. Thirteen years after her death, Yazova's Balkani (Balkans) trilogy—Levski (1987), Benkovski (1988) and Shipka (1989)—which looks at the spiritual source of all freedom, was published. Based on her scholarly research, the trilogy begins with Bulgaria's fight against Turkey in the second half of the 1800s and ends with the Russo-Turkish war of 1877–78.


Pynsent, Robert B., ed. Reader's Encyclopedia of Eastern European Literature. NY: HarperCollins, 1993.

Cyndia Zwahlen , editor and writer, Phoenix, Arizona