Bulgarian Novel Nominated for Three International Prizes Took Four Years to Write, Explores 20-Year-Old Idea


Sofia, March 19 (BTA/GNA) – Bulgarian author Georgi Gospodinov started writing Time Shelter “seriously” in 2016, but the idea of a “time clinic” occurred to him 20 years ago. “Each book takes quite a lot of research, it provides the context,” the writer said in a bTV interview on Saturday.

Time Shelter has been longlisted for the 2023 International Booker Prize and for the Dublin Literary Award and is shortlisted for the EBRD Literature Prize 2023. It won the most prestigious Italian literary award Premio Strega Europeo for 2021.

This is the first ever Booker nomination of a Bulgarian book, writer and translator.

The novel is a Guardian and Financial Times Book of the Year, and The New Yorker magazine listed it among the best books of 2022.

The dystopian novel explores the weaponization of nostalgia and the selection of particular eras in a “clinic for the past” of the not-so-new world order. The time shelter theme emerged back in 2011 in Gospodinov’s Physics of Sorrow, where the protagonist wonders why there is no bomb shelter for time.

“Unfortunately, the last three years have proved right what the book tells,” the author said on bTV.

He added that foreign producers and directors are showing interest in filming the fiction work.

The Times of London called it “a warning to Europe and Putin”.

So far, Time Shelter has been published in 17 languages, including German, Polish, Dutch, Croatian, Turkish, Swedish, Chinese and Arabic. It was translated into English by Angela Rodel, into French by Marie Vrinat-Nikolov, and into Italian by Giuseppe dell’Agata. The covers of the foreign editions feature recurring elements, the author pointed out. Clouds and rooms can be seen in three of the books. “It is thrilling to see how different and how similar the covers are,” Gospodinov commented.

The original version of the book appeared in April 2020 amidst the lockdown and at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, and it topped the bestseller charts in Bulgaria. It won the Novel of the Year National Literary Award of the 13 Centuries of Bulgaria National Endowment Fund. The cover of the Bulgarian edition was done by artist Nedko Solakov.

This is the writer’s third novel, after the award-winning Natural Novel (1999, published in 21 languages) and The Physics of Sorrow (2011).



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