History Created as First Ever Bulgarian Book Receives Booker

The book focuses on a clinic that offers remedies to people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

For the first time, a book written in Bulgarian, “Time Shelter,” by author Georgi Gospodinov and translator Angela Rodel, was voted the International Booker Prize winner on Tuesday.

A brief insight into the book’s content

The winning book is about a “clinic for the past” that provides cutting-edge Alzheimer’s care. It meticulously reconstructs the environment of earlier decades to stimulate patients’ recollections.

But over time, individuals in good health begin to visit the clinic in search of relief from the miseries of contemporary life.

“It is a novel that invites reflection and vigilance as much as it moves us, because the language—sensitive and precise—manages to capture, in a Proustian vein, the extreme fragility of the past,” Franco-Moroccan writer and jury member for the award Leila Slimani said, as quoted by WION.

Background and reactions of the winners

Gospodinov, a writer of novels and poems, was born in 1968 and is perhaps the most well-known contemporary Bulgarian author abroad. Twenty-five languages have translated his writings.

Gospodinov said, “This encourages writers not only from my country, but also from the Balkans, who often feel themselves outside the sphere of English-speaking attention”.

Meanwhile, Rodel was born in Minnesota but now lives and operates in Bulgaria. Her translations of prose as well as poetry have appeared in numerous journals of literature and compilations. She received Bulgarian citizenship in 2014 in recognition of her efforts and contributions to the country’s heritage.

“We need not only to recognise the translators but also put them on an equal footing with the authors,” Rodel said to journalists, “It was really trying to decide with Georgi how we were going to not just translate the text but translate the atmosphere, the context… all of those socialist sort of ghosts that were haunting the text itself.”

Gospodinov also conceded that “It was not easy at all to translate this kind of book, because the book is dealing with different decades in the 20th century and with different languages that we have in this decade.”

Prize money

The International Booker Awards honour the most popular and critically acclaimed works written in languages other than English. The prize money of 50,000 pounds is divided between the author and the translator.

The Indian book ‘Tombs of Sand’ won the International Booker Prize in 2022. It was written by Indian author Geetanjali Shree and translated by Daisy Rockwell.


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