Friday, October 31, 2008

Bulgaria: Beyond the Poisoned Umbrella

Here’s a fascinating interview from New Zealand TV with Edinburgh-based, Bulgarian poet and prose writer, Kapka Kassabova. The book she’s talking about, Street Without a Name, is terrific, and unclassifiable – a portrait of Bulgaria during the Cold War and then years afterwards, a memoir, travel book, a meditation on memory, politics, history, a reflection on how the past and present interweave…, and more besides.

I’d certainly give it five stars at Amazon, like most of the reviewers there, but it’s amazing to see that one reviewer uses the word “treason” and another feels “shame” at what he perceives “she has done” to her native country. I say 'amazing' because it links up well with this story on actress, Olga Kurylenko, who has been criticised by the Communist Party of St Petersburg for starring in a James Bond movie – Bond, of course, the fictional scourge of the old Soviet Union. The Party say:

“The Soviet Union educated you, cared for you and brought you up for free but no one suspected that you would commit this act of intellectual and moral betrayal.”

The dishonesty in that “cared for you” is striking! It’s a shame that those minority Amazon reviewers who didn’t like Street Without a Name appear unable to see that Kapka saves her criticism only for what’s been wrong with Bulgaria in the past and present. The book brings the country alive and certainly makes me want to visit it. The statements concerning Olga Kurylenko only illustrate how spot on Kapka's book is on Communist bureaucrat paranoia.

Anyway, anyone around Edinburgh can catch Kapka as MC at Poetry at the Great Grog on Sunday 9th November from 8pm.

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