Nominated by:

St. St. Cyril and Methodius National Library of Bulgaria

Publisher of nominated edition:

Open Letter Books, USA

The Physics of Sorrow

Georgi Gospodinov      

Translated from the original Bulgarian by Angela Rodel

2017 Longlist

Using the myth of the Minotaur as its organizing image, the narrator of Gospodinov’s long-awaited novel constructs a labyrinth of stories about his family, jumping from era to era and viewpoint to viewpoint, exploring the mindset and trappings of Eastern Europeans. Incredibly moving—such as with the story of his grandfather accidentally being left behind at a mill—and extraordinarily funny—see the section on the awfulness of the question “how are you?”.  Physics is a book that you can inhabit, tracing connections, following the narrator down various “side passages,” getting pleasantly lost in the various stories and empathizing with the sorrowful, misunderstood Minotaur at the center of it all.

Like the work of Dave Eggers, Tom McCarthy, and Dubravka Ugresic, The Physics of Sorrow draws you in with its unique structure, humanitarian concerns, and stunning storytelling.

(from publisher)

About the Author

Georgi Gospodinov was born in 1968 and is one of the most translated contemporary Bulgarian writers. His first novel, Natural Novel was published by Dalkey Archive Press and was praised by the New Yorker, New York Times, and several other prestigious review outlets. A collection of his short stories, And Other Stories was published by Northwestern University Press. The Physics of Sorrow is his second novel, and already a finalist for both the Strega Europeo and Gregor von Rezzori awards.

Librarian’s Comments

Our choice is motivated by the high literary merit of the novel and its wide reception both in Bulgaria and abroad. So far it has been translated in to Italian, German, English, French, Dutch, Serbian, Macedonian, Slovenian and is forthcoming in Arabic and Danish. The novel took several national literary awards and was shortlisted for six major international prizes: Best Translated Book Award (USA), PEN American Translation Prize, Pemio Strega Europeo (Roma), Premio Gregor von Rezzori (Florence), Internationaler Literaturpreis (Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin) and Brucke Berlin Preis.

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