Evtimova, Zdravka

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Biography

Zdravka Evtimova was born in 1959 in Pernik, Bulgaria, where she lives and works as literary translator from English, French and German. She has lived and worked as literary translator in Köln, Germany, and in Brussels, Belgium. Her short stories have appeared in the USA, Poland, France, the UK, Canada, Australia, Russia, Germany, Iran, Vietnam, South African Republic, Japan,
Argentina, Spain, etc. – altogether in 23 countries of the world.

The following books by her were published in English and Dutch.

  • Bitter Sky, SKREV Press, UK, 2003;
  • Somebody Else, MAG Press, USA, 2005;
  • Miss Daniella, SKREV Press, UK, 2007;
  • Good Figure Beautiful Voice, Astemari Publishing, USA, 2008;
  • God of Traitors, Book for a Buck Publishers, USA, 2007;
  • Boot voen ein Moeul, Max Cline Publishing, the Netherlands, 2007;
  • Pale and Other Postmodern Bulgarian Stories, Vox Humana, Canada, 2010;
  • Carts and Other Stories, Fomite, USA, 2012;
  • Time To Mow and Other Stories, All Things That Matter Press, USA, 2012;
  • Sinfonia Bulgarica, Fomite, USA, 2014.

Zdravka Evtimova’s short story Vassil was one of the 15 award-winning stories in the BBC world-wide short story competition in 2005. It was broadcast by Radio BBC UK in February 2006.

Zdravka Evtimova’s short story It Is Your Turn was one of the ten award-winning stories, which, after a world-wide competition, was included in the anthology Dix auteurs du monde entier (Ten Writers from All over the World) in Nantes, France, 2005.

In 2012, Zdravka Evtimova won the Shanghai Writing Program, hosted by the Shanghai Writers’ Association. She was invited to spend two months in Shanghai as a writer in residence (1 September to 31 October 2012).

In Bulgaria, Zdravka Evtimova has won a number of major literary awards including:

  • The 2004 Gencho Stoev literary award for the best short story by a Balkan Author;
  • The Razvitie Literary Award for the best Bulgarian contemporary novel in 2000 for her novel Your Shadow Was My Home;
  • Best Bulgarian Novel 2003 award from the Union of Bulgarian Writers for her novel Thursday;
  • Her novel The Arch, published in Bulgaria in 2007, was nominated as the Book of Europe 2008;
  • The Anna Kamenova National Fiction Award;
  • The Chudomir Bulgarian National award for a humorous short story;
  • The Cosmos Short Story Award;
  • The Zlaten Lanets Short Story Award – in both 2005 and 2010.

Zdravka Evtimova has translated and facilitated the publication of numerous short stories and poems by Bulgarian writers and poets in the UK, the USA and France.

Zdravka Evtimova has translated more than 20 novels by American, English and Australian authors into Bulgarian, including the Nebula Prize-winning novel Red Mars by K.S. Robinson, Project Pope by Clifford Simac, What I Loved by Siri Hustvedt, among others. She has translated works by Bulgarian authors (Boyan Biolchev, Hristo Karastoyanov, Alek Popov, Deyan Enev, Georgi Grozdev, Ivanka Kyuchukova, Ivan Dinkov, Fani Tsourakova, Ivanka Deneva, etc.) into English. She has translated into Bulgarian works by Salman Rushdie, Leonard Michales, Thessa Hadley, Arthur Miller, Sam Shepard, V.S. Naipaul, John Updike, Jonathan Franzen, Raymond Carver, T. Coraghessan Boyle, Aleksandar Hemon, etc.

Synopses

Synopsis of the novel Thursday by Zdravka Evtimova

Thursday is a novel describing life in contemporary Bulgaria.

There are four main characters in the novel, all of them women who live in Bulgaria. The first one is the Fat Girl – a rich heiress. Her father is hardly able to read and knows only the multiplication tables, yet he has accumulated riches through dishonest deals, theft and sharp competition with the other gangsters in the district of Pernik – Pernik being a large Bulgarian town. Fat Girl’s father robs the whole district and rules over the rest of the people in the area, while selling them cheap alcohol and second-hand clothes he imports from Western Europe.

The Fat Girl’s father is shot dead by other gangsters. The Fat Girl inherits his “empire”, consisting of 48 trucks and a chain of second-hand clothes shops. The Fat Girl is domineering and bossy. Her mother is very pretty; she leaves the Fat Girl’s father before he gets shot and marries a surgeon who is richer and has a higher social status than her husband.

The Fat Girl starts ruling the empire. Another rich man, a lawyer, proposes to marry her if she transfers 70 percent of her dead father’s property to his name. The Fat Girl threatens the lawyer with a revolver, forcing him to marry her; at the same time, the Fat Girl is in love with a young Gypsy man, Simo.

At the very beginning, the Fat Girl pays Simo to have sex with her; he falls in love with her. She does not tell him she is rich and he hopes he can marry her. He invites all his relatives – almost the whole population of the Gypsy quarter to his wedding party, but the Fat Girl does not come. He remains broken-hearted and lonely.

The second heroine in the novel is Mrs. Ivanova, the wife of the one of the most powerful men in Bulgaria. The Fat Girl is friends with Mrs. Ivanova. Mrs. Ivanova hates her husband and dreams of escaping to Germany. She is an attractive woman courted by many rich men. She actually sleeps with one of them, but she is attracted much more to Di, an attractive girl, her masseuse. Mrs. Ivanova feels miserable; she is appalled by the sex she has with her husband. Her husband forces her to make love to him every Thursday, leaving her money in return for her obedience. Mrs. Ivanova’s son has a governess who is Di’s mother – an unemployed researcher of Polish and Russian literature, whom Mrs. Ivanova often humiliates.

Mr. Ivanov is the tycoon, one of the real big shots in Bulgaria. He has a mistress, Nora.

Nora is the third major heroine in Thursday. She is a waitress in a sleazy café. In the very beginning of their relationship, Ivanov rapes Nora. She succeeds in stalking him and hits him on the head with a stone, nearly murdering him.  Nora makes up her mind to retaliate for all the humiliation she had been subjected to by Mr. Ivanov and by the rest of the men she has had relationships with. Nora has twin brothers, who at the end of the novel leave Bulgaria, searching for jobs abroad. Nora gets pregnant with the rude sleazy café owner, Gozo, whom at the end of the novel she avenges as well.

The fourth major character in the novel is Di, the masseuse. Mrs. Ivanova is in love with Di. A very rich Bulgarian, Mr. Spiro, who works as legal advisor for foreign companies, also tries to make Di his mistress. Di is the character who connects the other three major female characters in the novel. Di is in love with Peter – a student in medicine, whose mother is a divorced gynecologist, a very wealthy and domineering woman. The gynecologist pays Di to sleep with Peter; she thinks that her son will not be so shy if he has sex with Di. Peter, however, falls in love with Di; he’s the only man who really loves her.

The characters described in the novel are not just rude, brutal and cruel. They have their feelings and yearnings. The Fat Girl loves Simo, the Gypsy, but in spite of her enormous wealth she is not strong enough to save her love. Di, the masseuse, loves her mother and helps her in her plight – in the war against misery.

Mrs. Ivanova loves Di and that imparts much humanity to her character, which, at first glance, might appear shallow and selfish.

The novel ends with the attempt of Nora’s twin brothers to leave Bulgaria, no matter how much they love their mother and their sister, Nora. That is the only way for them to survive.

One is sure that a day will come when the Fat Girl will become more merciless than her gangster father and that she will smash Mr. Ivanov, the tycoon. Nora will punish the men who abuse, humiliate and torture her. Simo, the Gypsy, will love the Fat Girl forever, thinking she is the ordinary, pretty young woman he has been dreaming of all his life.

The novel draws a picture of life in a country where many people believe that “Money is the most loyal friend of man.”

Excerpts

Critical Reviews

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