Georgi Gospodinov

Portrait Georgi Gospodinov
© Ali Ghandtschi

The Bulgarian poet and writer Georgi Gospodinov was born in 1968. His first volume of poetry »Lapidarium« (1992) won the national prize for best début. It was followed by »Chereshata na edin narod« (1996; tr: The Cherry Tree of One People), which was awarded the Best Book of the Year Prize from the Bulgarian Writers’ Union.
Gospodinov earned international recognition with his first novel »Estestven roman« (1999; Eng. »Natural Novel«, 2005). The »New Yorker« described it as an »anarchic, experimental debut« and »The Times« as a »humorous, melancholy and highly idiosyncratic work«. The novel follows post-modern structuring principles and takes up the narrative techniques of Borges and Pessoa. The framework of the plot – the story of a man who leaves his wife because he is not the creator for her pregnancy – is infused with loosely connected multiple story lines, digressions, and different levels of reflection. The short story collection »I drugi istorii« (2001; Eng. »And Other Stories«, 2007) traces the mysteries of everyday life by describing tragicomic scenes. His novel »Fisika na tagata« (2011; Eng. »The Physics of Sorrow«, 2015) won the Jan Michalski Prize and was finalist for Brücke Berlin Preis and Haus der Kulturen der Welt Literaturpreis. In the novel, Gospodinov’s narrative arc spans the entire 20th century, mixing meaningful and sparkling episodes with historical artifacts and mythology, thereby finding a literary image for fragile biographies. In the story collection »I vsichko stana luna« (2013; tr: And It All Became a Moon) Gospodinov’s title story deals with the time it takes for the light of the sun to reach the earth and ironically communicates his thoughts about the end of the world, telling of the feelings of loneliness and homelessness and showing off burlesque thought games.
Gospodinov also writes plays and screenplays (such as »The Ritual« within the eastern European film production »Lost and Found«, which was the opening film at the International Forum of Young Cinema at the 2005 Berlin International Film Festival). »Blind Vaysha«, a short animation based on Gospodinov’s short story, was an Oscar Academy Award nominee for 2017. In 2006 Gospodinov edited the book »Az zhiviakh sotsializma« (2006; tr: I’ve Lived under Socialism), the result of a two-year internet project gathering stories of ordinary people’s experiences under socialism. He continued his work in this field with »Inventarna kniga na sotsializma« (2006; tr: An Inventory of Socialism; with Yana Genova), a catalogue of Bulgarian objects from everyday life before 1989. Gospodinov is affiliated to the Institute for Literature, BAS, Sofia, with a PhD in literary history. He has been awarded with many writer’s fellowships (Berliner Künstlerprogramm des DAAD, New York Public Library fellowship at the Cullman Center, Literaturhaus Zürich, etc.). In 2019/20, he is fellow at WIKO Berlin.