Popov, Alek

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Biography

Alek Popov was born in Sofia, Bulgaria, in 1966.  He graduated from St. Constantine Cyril the Philosopher College for Ancient Languages and Cultures in Sofia and later received his master’s degree in Bulgarian language and literature from the Sofia University. In 1997, he attended the English Language Institute at Wayne State University.

His first novel, Mission London, based on colorful impressions from his time as the cultural attaché at the Bulgarian Embassy in the United Kingdom, was published in 2001. It has been widely acclaimed as “the funniest contemporary Bulgarian book” for its sarcastic projection of the Bulgarian diplomatic elite. So far, it has been translated and published into 15 languages. An English edition of Mission London is forthcoming in the U.K., published by Istros Books (April, 2014).

The film Mission London based on the novel was released in 2010 and according to distributors was “a breakthrough phenomenon,” leading the Bulgarian box office for weeks. It became the most frequented Bulgarian movie for the last 20 years. In 2011, it won the Unbribable Award of Transparency International Croatia’s program “Culture against Corruption”.

Popov’s second novel, The Black Box, was published in 2007. It came out in German under the title Die Hunde fliegen tief (Dogs Are Flying Low) and has already gone through several editions. In January 2014, The Black Box won the 2013 U.K. contemporary Bulgarian novel contest of the Elizabeth Kostova Foundation, organized in cooperation with Peter Owen Publishers. The book is forthcoming in English in December, 2014. The Black Box has also appeared in Serbian, Turkish, Polish and Italian.

In March 2013, his third novel, The Palaveevi Sisters, was published in Bulgarian by Ciela. In April 2013, it headed the Top 10 list of best-selling titles in Bulgaria, and later that year won the 2013 Helicon Prize for new Bulgarian literary prose. The Municipal Theater of Plovdiv bought the theatrical rights of the novel.

Over the years, Alek Popov has published 6 collections of short stories. They have been have been translated into German, Hungarian, Polish, Serbian, Czech, French, Danish, English and Turkish. His first collection of short stories, The Other Death, appeared in Bulgaria in 1992. In 2013, the German publisher Deutsche Taschenbuch Verlag released a paperback edition of his collection of short stories For Advanced, published under the title Für Fortgeschrittene. In that same year, his book Mythology of Transition came out in Croatia under the title Mitologije tranzicije.

Alek Popov is the author of 6 plays broadcasted by the Bulgarian National Radio. In 2012, his most recent play Blacksmiths was put on stage by the Theater of New Bulgarian University and was nominated for the 2012 Bulgarian Askreer Theater Awards. A new production of the play by the City Theater of Burgas followed in 2013. Blacksmiths appeared in Serbian in Scena Magazine (Novi Sad).

He has won several literary awards including the National Radio’s Pavel Veshinov Award for the best criminal short story; the Graviton Award for best science fiction; the Rashko Sugarev Award for best short story; the Helicon Prize for the best prose book of the year, 2002 and 2013; the annual prize from Clouds magazine for the English translation of Mission London, 2004; the Ivan Radoev National Prize for Drama; the Elias Canetti Prize for his novel The Black Box, 2007; The Flower of Helicon Award; the United Bulgarian Banks Award for book of the year 2007, etc.

Today Alek Popov is one of the most popular contemporary writers in Bulgaria with a broad range of creative interests.  He continues to focus on prose, but also authors screenplays and facilitates various creative workshops.

In October 2012, Alek Popov was elected a corresponding member of the Bulgarian Academy of Science in the field of Arts. He serves in the board of the Bulgarian PEN Center and is part of the editorial body of the prestigious literary magazine Granta Bulgaria.

Excerpts

Mission London by Alek Popov, translated by Charles de Luppe

The Black Box by Alek Popov, translated by Charles de Lupe and Daniella de Lupe

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