“Party Headquarters” by Georgi Tenev (Open Letter Books, US, 2016)Print This Post
About the Book
Winner of the Vick Foundation Novel of the Year Award in 2007, Party Headquarters takes place in the ’80s and ’90s, during Bulgaria’s transition from communist rule to democracy. The book—which is a love story, a parody, and a thriller about a political hoax—opens with the main character visiting his father-in-law, an old communist party boss who is dying, and being tasked with delivering a suitcase filled with one-and-a-half million euros.
It’s one of Bulgaria’s most popular myths: As the communist party fell apart, officials squirreled away bags of the country’s wealth, and these bags are still circulating, waiting to be delivered to conspirators. But this is just the beginning of the corruption and inequality… While immersing himself in pornography and prostitution, our hero reflects back on his life and the emblematic events that took place—the anticommunist protests, the arson attack on the Communist Party Headquarters, and, most crucially, the Chernobyl disaster.
Beautiful and tragic, Party Headquarters is an engrossing testament to the struggles after the fall of the Soviet Union, many of which continue to resonate today.