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The debut of a new international star with an outstanding collection of short stories, spiked with homesickness and fizzing with the absurd.
A grandson tries to buy the corpse of Lenin on eBay for his Communist grandfather. A failed wunderkind steals a golden cross from an Orthodox church. A boy meets his cousin (the love of his life) once every five years in the river that divides their village into east and west. These are Miroslav Penkov s strange, unexpectedly moving visions of his home country, Bulgaria, and they are the stories that make up his charming, deeply felt debut collection.
In EAST OF THE WEST, Penkov writes with great empathy of centuries of tumult; his characters mourn the way things were and long for things that will never be. But even as they wrestle with the weight of history, with the debt to family, with the pangs of exile, the stories in EAST OF THE WEST are always light on their feet, animated by Penkov s unmatched eye for the absurd.
About The Author
Miroslav Penkov was born in Bulgaria and lived there, in the capital city of Sofia, until he graduated from First English Language High school. In 2001, at the age of eighteen, Miroslav went to the University of Arkansas where he completed a bachelor's degree in Psychology, followed by an MFA in Creative Writing. In 2008 The Southern Review awarded his story 'Buying Lenin' the 2007 Eudora Welty Prize in fiction. A month later Salman Rushdie and Heidi Pitlor chose the story to appear in the 2008 Best American Short Stories. He is currently an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at the University of North Texas and a fiction editor of the American Literary Review.
"Bulgaria past and present, its magical fables, absurdist realities and political exigencies, are presented through the eyes of homesick emigres and those who have remained. Penkov's stories combine toughness, vulnerability and bravado...he applies humour and compassion in equal measure: this is a sparkling collection." -- Guardian 'His splendid prose can be fleet, leisurely, colloquial, or formal... These stories are not the promising work of a first-time author. They are already a promise fulfilled--wise, bright, and deep with sympathy.' -- Alec Solomita, The New Republic 'There is a kind of magic at work in East of the West, a beautiful alchemy that combines wisdom and imagery, soul and story to render, finally, the pure gold of these tales. Miroslav Penkov is an extraordinary writer. May many books follow this one.' -- Bret Lott, author of Jewel and A Song I Knew by Heart 'Miroslav Penkov unpacks his stories with great skill, drawing the reader so deeply into the world he has created that when the magic comes - a father wrapping his son's eyelash in a handkerchief - it knocks the wind right out of you. EAST OF THE WEST captures the moments that prove we are truly living.' -- Hannah Tinti, author of The Good Thief 'Miroslav Penkov has successfully trapped two elusive creatures: the absurd beauty of Eastern Europe, and the emotional paradox of self-exile from that absurdity. His sense of history, his sense of humor, and his ability to create lasting characters make this book a dark yet hilarious pleasure.' -- Elizabeth Kostova, author of The Historian 'I suspect that Miroslav Penkov would be a wonderful writer in any language, but lucky for us, it happens to be English, and what funny, tender, tragic, and soulful stories he spins from his adopted tongue. EAST OF THE WEST is, simply put, one of the best collections I have read in years, ambitious and accomplished enough in scope to encompass east, west, and all stations in between.' -- Ben Fountain, author of Brief Encounters with Che Guevara 'Miroslav Penkov spins magical tales. There is wonderful humor here, and characters you will never forget. You will love this book. I cannot recommend it highly enough.' -- Ellen Gilchrist, National Book Award-winning author of A Dangerous Age and I Cannot Get You Close Enough 'Every once in a while, but no more often than that, a first book by a young writer comes along to restore a reader's faith in things. I mean big, serious things which matter, ones like memory, imagination, words, creativity and moral judgement...Rarely has such an intriguingly disparate cast been so deftly and dryly assembled...Penkov's stories are ironic without being trite, melancholic, but with a whiff of whimsy, revealing that they remain distinctly eccentric. He is a considerable, quirky, new talent.' -- Canberra Times 'a series of superb tales of love and hate, home and homesickness, passion, exile, violence, history and humour.' -- Bendigo Advertiser "These eight stories play with dimensions of Bulgaria's beleaguered past and Turkish occupation through the eyes of an endearing set of appealing and convincing characters. Exile, betrayal, courage, hope, joy, death and anguish flow through these stories." -- Sunday Territorian
Number Of Pages: 240
Published: 1st August 2011
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton General Division
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 22.3 x 14.5 x 2.3
Weight (kg): 0.37
Edition Number: 1