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March 2017

From the Edges of Europe: New Bulgarian Literature

Image: Anastas Petkov, The Bridge in Burgas, Bulgaria 2012.

Our latest issue includes work from eight thrilling writers from the Balkan nation of Bulgaria. While most readers may be hard-pressed to think of a Bulgarian writer other than 1981 Nobel laureate Elias Canetti, the poets, fiction writers, and essayists in this issue suggest Bulgarian letters are alive and well, spinning tales that grapple with everything from the Soviet years and exile to the most unusual of bookstores and the surest way to go blind. 

Georgi Gospodinov extols literature’s ability to bolster us in the midst of economic and moral crisis, Theodora Dimova weaves a tale of another poète maudit, Zachary Karabashliev chronicles one widower’s struggle to begin anew in another country, and Yordanka Beleva takes a clinical approach to canine companionship. Plus more work by Alek PopovAngel Igov, Kristin Dimitrova, and Boryana Neykova, introduced by guest editors Svetlozar Zhelev and Angela Rodel.

This issue of Words without Borders was translated with the support of National Book Centre, part of National Palace of Culture-Congress Center Sofia.

Make Bulgaria Great Again

Just like every other literature and viewpoint, Bulgarian literature has important contributions to make.

Invisible Crises

There is no way to cure melancholy with an antibiotic. Nor your personal depression with a financial injection.


This skin hanging like a wet sheet over bent bones would have seemed devastating to me.



How is it that in this big whoppin’ America there’s not a single little piece of baling wire?


The Meek

Then the generous autumn of ’44 suddenly thrust into your hands the power to shape human fates.

The Shadow of the Great Masturbator

“You’ve been trading in stolen knickers, haven’t you!”

Time to Pack

Soon I will be leaving this town too


Visitors Assume All Risk upon Entering the Premises

He spoke quietly, calmly, with a certain despair that was discernible only on the fringes of his personality.

Seven Ways to Hide Behind a Dog

The first question is “Why did you get a dog?”


Book Reviews

“The Amazing Story of the Man Who Cycled from India to Europe for Love” by Per J. Andersson

Reviewed by Camila M. Santos

An against-all-odds love story from India, by way of Sweden.

“Frontier” by Can Xue

Reviewed by Kate Prengel

Explores the borderlands between barbarism and civilization, spiritual and material, mundane and sublime, beauty and death, Eastern and Western.

“The Impossible Fairy Tale” by Han Yujoo

Reviewed by Ariell Cacciola

A fresh and terrifying exploration of the ethics of art making and of the stinging consequences of neglect.

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Voices on the Verge: Writing from Southeast Asian Creole Languages

The Slow Burn of Inner Chaos: Writing from Malaysia

Backstories: Afro-Italian Women Writers

The Queer Issue XII

Movement and Multiplicity: Writing from Mauritania

On the Edge: Writing from Iceland

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