Thursday, March 16, 2023

"Time Shelter" by Georgi Gospodinov Makes International Booker Longlist

The novel Time Shelter by Georgi Gospodinov, translated into English by Angela Rodel (Liveright May, 2022), has been included in the International Booker prize 2023 longlist. This is the first time that a Bulgarian novel has been nominated for this prestigious award.

The International Book prize is awarded annually for a novel or short story collection written originally in any language, translated into English and published in the UK or Ireland. The £50,000 prize money is split equally between the author and translator of the winning book.

I reviewed Time Shelter for World Literature Today in its September 2022 edition, writing that "the underlying theme in Time Shelter is whether our memories of the past, real or imagined, can protect us from the temporal chaos outside our daily lives." I added, "In real life, memories may not shield us from that chaos, but in the imagination of Georgi Gospodinov, anything is possible."

I had previously reviewed Gospodinov's novel The Physics of Sorrow.

Georgi Gospodinov was born in Yambol, Bulgaria, and his works have been translated to acclaim in 25 languages. His novels have been shortlisted for more than a dozen international prizes.

Angela Rodel is a professional literary translator living and working in Bulgaria. She holds a B.A. from Yale and an M.A. from UCLA in linguistics. She received a 2014 NEA translation grant for The Physics of Sorrow (Open Letter 2015).

Related articles:

Book Review: "Time Shelter" by Georgi Gospodinov

The Physics of Randomness

Monday, March 6, 2023

"Have a Nice Day" - short story

Hastings wakes up, shaves, showers, combs his hair. Puts on his suit, adjusts his tie. Picks up his briefcase on his way out and checks that he has locked his apartment behind him. Rides the elevator down to the lobby where he is greeted by Al, the building’s doorman.

“Good morning, Mr. Hastings!”

“Morning,” he replies with a wave.

“Busy day ahead?”

“Same as always.”

“Important court case, is it?”

“No, nothing important.”

“What is it then? Divorce settlement? Defending a tax evader?”

He shakes his head.

“You probably have clients lining up outside your door, you’re such a well-known attorney.”

“And you’re a well-known doorman!”

“Always the joker, you are.”

“Have a nice day,” Hastings says. He walks through the revolving doors and out to the street.

At the newsstand he picks up the Times. As he scours the headlines, the vendor leans forward, a cigarette balancing precariously on his lower lip.

“Anything you wrote?”

“No, nothing today,” Hastings says as he folds the pages.

“Something of yours gonna appear in print? Big exposé, maybe?”

Hastings laughs. “I don’t think that’s going to happen anytime soon.”

“Wait until I tell the guys. City’s best reporter buying newspapers at my stand!”

Hastings grins as he accepts his change. “Have a nice day.”

The subway station is crowded, and he pushes his way to the platform. The train pulls in, and he gets on, quickly taking his usual seat near the door.

“Morning Hastings,” says the over-weight man sitting at his left.

He nods. The two men ride the same train most mornings, with Hastings trying not to get annoyed at the constant chatter of his traveling companion.

“I’ve been having pains,” the heavy man complains, gripping his belly.

“Pains?” Hastings raises an eyebrow.

“Right here. In my gut. What do you think it could be? Appendix? Tumor?”

“I don’t have a clue.”

“But you’re a famous doctor. Surely you must know something. Cancer? Could it be that?”

“You should have it checked out.”

“Can you do that? Give me a full physical?”

“This is my stop,” Hastings says politely as he stands up. “I hope you feel better. Have a nice day.”

Emerging from the subway station, Hastings looks at his watch. He is on time, he sees, so he stops at the corner coffee shop and gets in line. When it is his turn, he approaches the counter to place his order.

“Good morning,” the freckle-faced barista says warmly.

“Hello, Natalie. How are you?”

“I’m fine, just fine. It’s always exciting to see you in the mornings.”


“Well, you know.”

“No, I don’t know.”

“Oh, come on, Mr. Hastings. You, of all people, coming here for coffee. You could be drinking with a celebrity instead. A movie star, or someone from one of those rock bands you represent.”

“Your coffee’s good.”

“Imagine that. A bigshot talent agent likes my coffee!”

The other customers in line are waiting, so Hastings moves to the side. When Natalie hands him his cappuccino, he winks at her. “Thanks,” he says. “Have a nice day.”

He walks down the street, taking an occasional sip of coffee. When he reaches his building, he transfers the lidded cup to his other hand so that he can open the door. He climbs three floors, takes out his key, and unlocks his office.

His desk is piled with folders, half hiding his computer. He looks for an empty spot for his coffee, sets his briefcase on the floor. He sits down, riffles through the folders, looking at the names on the labels.

The lawyer. The journalist. The doctor. The talent agent. And all the others. Each of them has taxes to file; each of their files will be handled in turn.

He sighs, wondering what it must be like to be in their shoes. To live their lives. But except for a few brief moments each morning, he has his own life to live. He picks up his pen and clicks his computer to life.

“Have a nice day,” Hastings wishes himself as he gets to work.

 # # #

Originally published on Written Tales.

Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Review of 'Victorious' by Yishai Sarid

Military service in Israel is mandatory, although the ultra-Orthodox and Arab Israelis are exempt from conscription. The majority of young men who serve, as well as a growing number of women, do so in combat units. Training to serve in a combat unit takes a physical toll on recruits, but they pay a stiff psychological price as well.

In this novel, Abigail, an Israeli Defense Forces lieutenant colonel, serves as a mental health officer in her reserve duty. In this position, she has gained a “gateway into the soul of the military,” and she is well aware of how army commanders transform new recruits from young civilians into battle-ready machines, capable of anything, including killing. In fact, Abigail has become an “expert on the psychology of killing.”

Read the rest of the review on World Literature Today.

Related article:

Review of 'The Memory Monster' by Yishai Sarid

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Announcement: "Rakiya" to Be Published by GenZ Publishing!

I am proud to announce that Rakiya: Stories of Bulgaria will be published by GenZ Publishing. The book is set for release at the end of this year or early next year.

The twelve heartwarming and culturally illuminating stories in Rakiya introduce readers to Bulgaria—its majestic mountains; picturesque villages; rich history; and traditions—and leaves them wanting more.

A gypsy pickpockets tourists in order to support her daughter. An elderly war veteran seeks atonement for his role in the Holocaust. Two brothers hunt down a marauding killer bear. A Syrian refugee doctor bakes pitas for a living. A femme fatale disappears at an international writers’ conference. And two neighbors compete to see who makes the best alcoholic drink.

Several of the stories in Rakiya have been previously been published in online and print literary magazines including 'The Write Launch'; 'The Bookends Review'; 'Isele Magazine'; 'Adelaide Literary Magazine'; 'Potato Soup Journal'; 'Vagabond'; 'Literary Yard'; and 'Ariel Chart'.

In November 2021, Rakiya was listed as a finalist in the Eyelands Book Awards 2021 - an international contest for published/unpublished books based in Greece. Rakiya was one of 4 finalists in the unpublished short story collection category.

GenZ is an innovative, traditional, indie publisher that focuses on mentoring authors through each step of the publishing process and beyond: editing, writing sequels, cover design, marketing, PR, and even getting agented for future works.

Related story:

"Rakiya" Shortlisted for International Book Award

Friday, February 10, 2023

Shlomo Artzi in Concert

What a perk when your daughter manages events at Binyanei Hauma, Jerusalem's International Convention Center, and can get you free tickets to a Shlomo Artzi concert!
The first time I saw Shlomo Artzi perform was 50 years ago on that very same stage in Binyanei Hauma. Other performing musicians that night, if I recall correctly, were Ruti Navon and Miri Aloni. I was in high school and a classmate's brother had produced the concert at the huge Jerusalem hall, hoping to make a name for himself in the Israeli music industry.  The night didn't go as he had hoped.

Only some 75 tickets to the concert were sold. I think this was because of the lack of publicity and the fact that another huge event had been staged a few nights before. The small crowd sat in the first few rows of the hall, which can seat 3,000 people. I remember that Shlomo Artzi was unfazed by the low turnout, and he played a very good set.

Over the years, Jodie had I have seen Elton John and Paul Simon perform in that same hall. And we attended an outdoor Shlomo Artzi concert at Sultan's Pool a number of years ago.

The concert last night was fun. He performed many of his greatest hits, connecting them together with short tales of his career. He mentioned performing at Binyanei Hauma as a soldier, but didn't mention the concert I had attended for some reason.

Shlomo Artzi is one of Israel's leading folk rock musicians and composers. He is incredibly talented and the band that accompanied him was incredible. A totally enjoyable concert and it came as a treat from our daughter Merav!

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Review of 'The Color of the Elephant' by Christine Herbert

Who among us is brave enough to pick up everything and go live in a country where you don't know the language, the culture, even the food, and in addition, where the color of everyone's skin is different than your own?

Christine Herbert, the author of this captivating memoir "decided to trust [herself] like never before, to walk into each situation with an open mind and an open heart and let [her] tuition guide [her]."

Herbert's adventures in Zambia while serving in the Peace Corps, as told in The Color of the Elephant (GenZ Publishing, January 2022) take us on a fascinating ride. This is a well-written, page-turning story. We feel we are part of the author's journey as she learns not only about Zambia, but also about herself.

In the village where she serves, Herbert is a muzungu, a person of foreign descent. Not only that, she is white, a curiosity to the natives. For the first time in her life, she is in the minority. "I am reminded daily, either by words or by action, how very white I am. I couldn't forget my race if I tried," she writes.

Herbert's encounters with Zambia are colorful and entertaining, and full of description. As we read her story we are introduced to the maize-based, staple food of the country called nshima, served very, very hot. Young dancers practice the rituals of nyau, a trance-like channeling of an animal spirit. Women spend much time walking around on their knees when in the presence of a man. Herbert learns that when one goes to an outhouse, you need to ward off the snakes coiled at the base of the doorframes.

Despite the hardships of living in difficult conditions, of being away from her family, of coming down with repeated, debilitating cases of malaria, Herbert perseveres. What propels her forward is "a deep curiosity, about absolutely everything, and the courage to dive in and learn more, even at the expense of [her] own comfort."

Herbert is committed to her Peace Corps service and is determined to "see it through to the end. This job, this existence, has become the most important thing my life."

We are glad the author of this highly recommended book stuck it out. Not only have we witnessed how she came out of her experiences in a foreign country a better person, but her story also leaves us with a better understanding of cultures and lives so different from our own.

Sunday, January 29, 2023

A Nail-Biting Story!

Mystery, suspense, and thriller are lumped into The Burgas Affair -- a fictional account of the aftermath of a real terrorist attack that took place in 2012 in Bulgaria.

We accompany a Bulgarian detective and a female Israeli intelligence data analyst temporarily seconded to Bulgaria during a joint investigation after a bomb explodes and kills a number of Israeli tourists on a bus at the Bulgarian airport.

The Burgas Affair is written from two different points of view: Detective Boyko Stanchev of the Bulgarian police task force is seen as a phlegmatic, scruffy, and inept individual while Ayala Navon is a disciplined and focused personality who becomes impatient with the pace of the investigation, especially when Boyko crosses the line of professional boundaries.

Despite initial hiccups and lugged by a troubled past, they both develop a growing attachment and affection as they try to bring the culprits to justice.

The novel ends on a note of bittersweet hopefulness.

This review of The Burgas Affair was posted on Amazon in March, 2022.

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

"The Menu" - short story

Dennis skimmed through the menu and quickly made his selection. Prime New York Strip Steak with sides of Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Sautéed Mushrooms. No need for a starter with a heavy meal like that, but what wine would be appropriate? A Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon or a Pinot Noir? Admittedly, he could hardly distinguish one red from another, but from experience, he knew the right wine would make his steak dinner all the more enjoyable.

Bianca—that was his companion's name. Let's recap how they had met, he thought, as she concentrated on her menu. A blind date set up by mutual friends. He had been hesitant at first, but they insisted. He needed to get back in the game, they said, but he was still raw from his breakup with Mona.

Bianca. As she perused the menu, he smiled. She had an alluring face, green eyes, and shoulder-length blond hair. Quite attractive, actually. He knew absolutely nothing about her; that would soon change. His friends assured him she wasn't a vegetarian; that was why he booked a table at this upscale steakhouse, with its somewhat snobbish upholstered chairs, white linen tablecloths, and smartly uniformed staff. Seeing the overpriced entrées on the menu, he hoped the meal would be worth the expense.

Bianca's eyes went wide as she flipped through the menu pages. "Let me see…" she said.

Read the rest of the story at Umbrella Factory MagazineYou can read the story in one of three ways:

1) On the Umbrella Factory website

2) On this website, it's a little easier: 

3) Download the PDF and read offline.

"The Menu" is on page 14 of Issue 58.

Thursday, January 5, 2023

"Seven Blessings" - short story

I felt terribly uncomfortable at the wedding, standing to the side as exuberant yeshiva students danced around the hall in frenzied circles, while black-suited rabbis looked on with pride. I remained rigidly in place, finding no opportunity to approach and congratulate the bride and groom.

The wedding customs were foreign to me. There was little tradition in my secular lifestyle. That was why I had yet to find a bride for myself, my sister often lectured me. She became ultra-Orthodox after she married. Maybe she expected the same of me. Before I left, she invited me for Sheva B’rachot the next day.

Read the rest of the story on the The Jewish Literary Journal.

Photo by Aaron Ovadia on Unsplash

Sunday, January 1, 2023

2022 - My Writing Year in Review

It's seven in the morning at an Aroma coffee shop in Tel Aviv. There I am, typing on my laptop while drinking my cappuccino. Ignoring the other customers, the grinding of coffee beans, and the hiss of milk being steamed, I concentrate on my writing. Short stories. That's what I'm writing these days.

My three mornings a week at Aroma are when I'm the most productive. Ideas stream onto my screen and I write, revise, edit, improve. 2022 was quite a successful year for me. Eleven of my stories were published. Another 3 are scheduled to be published in early 2023.

Looking ahead into the new year I am very excited, very optimistic. I hope each of my stories will find a good place to be published, but more than that, I am hopeful that Rakiya, my collection of short stories set in Bulgaria, will be published in 2023.

I'm proud of what I accomplished in 2022. Here are my writing statistics for the year:


Short stories written


Story submissions (including simultaneous submissions)








Stories currently on submission


Active Submissions



Thank you for taking the time to read my stories and share my writing career!

Short stories published in 2022:


The Tiger - JewThink, January 5, 2022

Have a Nice Day - Written Tales Magazine, May 3, 2022


Heterochromia - Otherwise Engaged Journal, May 30, 2022                          


Jupiter Aligned With Mars - 50 Word Stories, June 30, 2022

Night Shift - Across the Margin, July 19, 2022

Time Shelter by Georgi Gospodinov (book review) - World Literature Today, August 29, 2022      

Running in Time - On the Run, October 28, 2022


A Stand-Up Comedian Walks Into a Bar - Esoterica, November 7, 2022   


The Last Tweet - The Chamber Magazine, December 4, 2022

Mrs. Levinsky’s Old Fiat - Verdad Magazine, December 9, 2022

Musala - Ariel Chart, December 21, 2022                              

Stay tuned for my writing progress in 2023!


Related article:

2021 – My Year in Writing

Photo by Thom Milkovic on Unsplash