April, 2012

  1. Job Swap 5

    April 28, 2012 by Christopher Buxton

    (The story so far: As part of a European work-sharing initiative, the GLB  Greatest Living Bulgarian Boyko Borisov and Posh-boy David Cameron have swapped jobs.  Batty Boyko is now in Downing Street and firing on all cylinders, in spite of the double dip recession and the Levinson Inquiry.

    David Cameron is a little more comfortable in his Boyanna Residence, away from the UK April rain)

    GLB: Ey what a week! I phoned my Agriculture Minister – next time there’s a drought in Bulgaria, don’t send for the priests; just announce a hose pipe ban.  I got drenched on my morning run past Buckingham Palace.  Just getting ready to wave to Baba Lizzie and the heavens opened. Everyone here is talking about a doddery old Australian, called Murdoch. I phoned up Yulian Vuichkov.  Who is this guy? Only turns out to own all the media in the western world. He owns so much, he didn’t even know he owned BTV.  When he found out about Slavi and Aziz, he sold it. I’ve not been getting too good headliners in the Sun – not since I had a photo of me with Balotelli.  It was only because my advisor told me I was being snapped with too many white footballers.  Then the next day the story about the prostitute broke. Thank God she wasn’t Bulgarian. I phoned up Roman to congratulate him on his victory in Barcelona and booked a photo session with John Terry. Anyway this Murdoch guy is suggesting that he had a back-passage relationship with the Culture secretary and all the newspapers are shouting that I should give him the boot. There is just too much back-passage stuff going on and I have to be careful pronouncing this guy’s name. Jeremy Hunt, Hunt, Hunt!  I don’t see what’s the problem, but the BBC takes a deep breath very time they say it.  Our Culture minister’s Turkish.  We don’t have problems with his name – at least as long as Volen isn’t around. Well I did have a laugh yesterday. I’d just been bollocking George Osborne for the double dip recession and the fact I’d caught him feeding caviar to the Downing Street cat. No wonder he can’t catch any mice. What is this double dip anyway? It sounds like that water slide in Sunny Beach. Just after that I get the news that one of Dave’s MPs has called us rich posh boys that don’t know the price of milk. I haven’t laughed so much in years.  Me posh? My country all thinks I’m a thick peasant.  I phoned up Yulian again. He knows everything. I ask him what’s a pint. He says I’ve missed the point.

     

    Posh Boy Dave:  It’s really rather pleasant here.  The weather’s bucked up and I’m playing a lot of tennis. Bit of a scare the other day. Volen turned up red in the face.  He’d read some story that the Macedonian Secret service had stolen the relics of John the Baptist from a church in Sliven. He wanted me to declare war and get them back before they could prove Jesus Christ was really Macedonian. I told him to “calm down dear!” I just love it that you can be politically incorrect here.  As I thought the story turned out to be a spoof – just like that supposed interview where I rubbish Bulgaria. But just to calm him down I promised I’d get a briefing on Macedonia and all problems relating to it.  I checked on the map – it’s closer than the Falklands and we won’t need aircraft carriers. We just need to get our heads round the language.  They speak some kind of Glasgow dialect Bulgarian and Albanian. Meanwhile I’m getting a law out to confiscate property that was bought illegally in the last fifteen years. I asked the Vice President how we would find out which stuff was bought illegally.  She laughed and said we should just rely on the neighbours. She muttered something about it not mattering how badly off you were as long as someone called Vutie was worse off. It looks like there’ll be lots of Vuties. Meanwhile I must have a chat with Rashidov – just to check whether Murdoch owns anything here.

     


  2. Review of Mona Choban’s “Dosta”

    April 25, 2012 by Christopher Buxton

    I shall be introducing the writer Mona Choban at the Bulgarian Cultural Institute on May 8th.

    Over and over again in English bookshops I am reminded of how much readers are missing in the new timorous publishing climate, where so few foreign writers are published in translation and, for those that are, a kind of lottery system operates – one year South American, the next year Turkish, last year Scandinavian.

    I feel this injustice in reverse of this every time I enter a Bulgarian bookshop. New globalizing practice dictates the books on most prominent display are popular works translated into Bulgarian. Rarely does a Bulgarian writer make it on to the first display stand that greets the customer. And yet on the shelves devoted to Bulgarian writers a stack of treasure awaits the reader who can read Bulgarian.

    Mona Choban is an exciting talented versatile writer whose liquid clear prose disguises a depth of moral passion and an urgent neo-feminist message for our time.  Her books are short but as with Jane Austen working on her “little bit of ivory”, their impact resonates long after they are returned to the bookshelf. Her versatility is evidenced by the way she moves through genres with ease – from her earliest so-called chick lit, to her dystopian science fiction and in her latest work, magic realism.

    In Dosta Mona Choban develops a theme already present in her previous writing – a subtle but strong critique of the modern Eurovision world and the fraudulent model for perfect life it offers. Her heroine, Katerina withdraws from her emigrant life in Paris to return not just to her homeland but to a mountain village at the back of beyond, inhabited like so many Bulgarian villages by an aged population, who have maintained through their isolation access to an older wisdom.

    Dosta evokes a pre-modernist village world where everyone knows each other’s business and newcomers are treated with proper caution. It is a woman’s world, a world in which remedies for ills are found in the inherited magical knowledge passed down the generations. But Katerina quickly adapts to this arcane world. But all is not entirely well.  As with Susan Hill’s “Woman in Black”, a restless spirit from the past haunts the village and speaks through the village educated idiot, Pabob. This adds a page turning element of suspense.

    Dosta is a wonderful untranslatable title – at once the obscure antique Bulgarian name, a name perhaps given to the last child in a large family and a word meaning much or even too much. Dosta is what Pabob shouts when he is upset.  But its sinister second meaning only becomes apparent as the women of the village set about laying the troubled spirit to rest. Shame and horror lurk in the past.

    Mona’s fellow Bulgarian writer, Kalin Terziski, describes her as a shining light. Great literature illuminates.  And for another male reader (me) she has made me see the world in a new light.


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