Monday, July 22, 2019

Going Back to Sofia

I make my way through Passport Control, fetch my suitcase, and catch a taxi. Minutes later I am speeding down the traffic-filled streets, behind the trams and the trolleybuses. The taxi crosses Eagles’ Bridge and we are on the cobblestoned streets of the center of the city. Moments later I am dropped off at my hotel.

I am back in Sofia and in many ways, I have come back home. I lived in this city for two years. I walked its streets, ate in its restaurants, admired its older buildings, and worked in its high-tech offices. I strolled through the city’s parks and visited its museums. This is a city I know well and I don’t need to consult a map to make my way around.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Review of “Is There Anybody to Love You” by Kalin Terziyski

There’s nothing beautiful about the city of Sofia in Is There Anybody to Love You? by Kalin Terziyski (Dalkey Archive Press, December 2018; translated by David Mossop), a collection of short stories set in the Bulgarian capital. “The houses in Sofia are ugly because they’re old,” thinks the protagonist of the story ‘The Beggar’. “Their age doesn’t do anything to enhance their beauty, just destroys their rendering.”

In the title story it is constantly raining, while in ‘Problems with the Cleaner’, “the stifling heat of August lies as heavy as an old carpet.” The rain is so strong in the story ‘A Stroll through Space with Slight Deviations in Time’ that it seems “as if a cursed and evil decision had been made to engulf us in water.” Still, the heavy rainfall can also serve to refresh the air. After a downpour nearly inundates the city, “the sun even comes out—a strange, droll sort of evening sun—just before it hides behind the mountain peak of Vitosha to go on to someplace else.”