Mogilska, Ivanka

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Ivanka Mogilska was born in 1981. She studied theater directing for six semesters at the National Academy for Theater and Film Arts and graduated in public relations from the Sofia University. She is the author of the collection of poetry DNA (Janet 45 Print and Publishing, 2004), the novel Hideaways (Janet 45 Print and Publishing, 2007), the collection of poetry Otherwise (Janet 45 Print and Publishing, 2010), and the novel Sudden Streets (Janet 45 Print and Publishing, 2013) .

In 2005, DNA won the Pegasus Award for a Poetic Debut at the Southern Spring Competition in Sofia. In 2008, Hideaways was selected by the European First Novel Festival, part of the International Book Festival in Budapest. Ivanka has read her works at the Bulgarian Cultural Center in Budapest and in Pecz, Hungary.  In 2010, she took part in the Universal Meeting or Tales on the Phone project as a writer of tales.  Later, the tales were published in a collection.

In 2011, along with the artist Albena Baeva, she took part in the creation of the performance “DNA of Words” or an instrument for playing poetry, based on her two books of poetry. Over the past three years, it has been performed throughout Bulgaria, as well as in Berlin and Bremen (OUTNOW! Festival 2013), Germany.

Poems by Ivanka Mogilska have been translated into English and included in The Season of Delicate Hunger. Anthology of Contemporary Bulgarian Poetry, that was published in the US by Accents Publishing in 2013.

Her second novel, Sudden Streets, which  enjoys positive reviews from readers and critics, will be translated and published in Hungary.


Synopsis of the novel Hideaways by Ivanka Mogilska

Hideaways is a novel about the city, two women and a bar.

The two female protagonists tell their stories in parallel. Each of them offers her point of view.

Cara has a promising job. A splendid future. A strict schedule.

Eve has time. Memories to leave behind, a desire to break her schedule and a secret that she should keep and turn over to the right person.

One Friday night they are brought together by chance in a strange bar where everyone looks happy. And the reason for that happiness, it seems, lies in Eve – the woman who never leaves the bar, as it turns out. Cara is possessed by the thought of getting to know Eve. To figure out her secret. To realize what makes her so special. Gradually she gives up her job. She starts following Eve continuously. Fantasizing about her life. Playing out different versions of it.

The main character in the novel is the city. You won’t recognize any particular city. It remains unnamed. You will see the city where all of this can happen. A place of unexpected directions and cul-de-sacs. With smoky underground bars where you will never come back. A city of noises, screaming, paranoia, alcohol, taking you to unsuspected catacombs. A city of laughter and grief, of criminal stories – shooting inside a cafe, a suicider who decides to blow out their temple sitting in their car in the parking lot, a contractor who wants to remove the statue of a girl from the city square to build there a new, cold building wrapped is steel.

The plot jumps around in time. At times it takes the reader to the past where everything is secure, and at others brings them to the present, which often tortures them or shows them pictures from the far off future.

This is the story of a person trying to figure out the personal story of another person. This is a story in  which the chased one, on her part, tries to recognize herself in the chaser. And instead of calling the police or turning to logic for help, the chased one sympathizes with her unknown chaser, starts getting to know her, figuring out her secrets, even allows to be followed, eavesdropped, sought.

When a third person appears between the two protagonists, “the victim” and the chaser suddenly lose interest in each other, they grow apart, they hesitate about their emotions and even take vengeance.

Only two of the characters in the novel have names, but even they are arbitrary. The chaser has invented a name for her victim. And the victim, on her part, is convinced about the personality of her chaser. The viewpoints in the novel change unexpectedly and even in a cinematographic way. At the end, readers ask themselves whether this is not the story of one person only, seen in her youth, and then in her maturity.

Inside the main plot, some other, quite common stories are intertwined. A story of a family with two kids who suffer of the strained atmosphere at home. The story of another couple walking in the street – and the harmony between those two is palpable, because it is built on compromise and tenacity, on beauty and the secret between them.

The novel studies smile and laughter. The characters are in a constant search of joy, easiness, emancipation from everyday life. They want to figure out the anatomy of laughter, the cardiovascular system of smiles. They try to capture those feelings and relations between two people, not named by the people, but which everyone has felt.

The characters find out that the hope to touch the other at least for a second is a reason enough to go on. (But where exactly is “on”?) To give up the schedule, to leave yourself to the streets of the city that  know better than you when it is time to break up, when it is time to find and when the way is more important than the goal. Because words are extremely not enough…

Synopsis of the novel Sudden Streets by Ivanka Mogilska

An unemployed screenwriter, Margarita, is hired by an elderly man who has not left his home in twenty years to write a script about his life – the way it could have been but never was. The man is Max Reinhardt, a world-renown set designer who fled communist Bulgaria in the 1960s. After leaving to search for his beloved, a photographer who suddenly disappeared, he made his way through a series of refugee camps and managed to reach Paris, where he thought he would find her. But he didn’t. He decided that if he became famous enough as a set designer and they showed his films all over Europe, she would figure out where he was and come back to him – and he made this plan a reality. Throughout his life, while designing sets for films in Italy, Spain and France, he was also making sketches and drawings of a special city – one that gathered together the most beautiful streets from all the places he had visited.
Thirty years after fleeing his home country, he wins a set design award for a film shot in Budapest, which foretells the changes in the Eastern Block. Shortly thereafter, the communist regime in Bulgaria falls and Reinhardt returns to Sofia along with his friend, a French film producer. The two of them find funding and begin building a grandiose permanent city/set by the seaside. This is the city Reinhardt has been drawing his whole life, with the thought that one day he would share it with his vanished beloved. Unfortunately, the project suddenly grinds to a halt, stirring up a huge media firestorm. Construction work on the project is abandoned, the producer goes back to Paris and no one hears anything more about Max Reinhardt.
Margarita, the screenwriter, has to figure out what exactly happened, why the set designer does not leave his home, and whether he ever saw the woman he loves again. All of this will help her write the script in which Max and his beloved never leave the country and leave together happily into ripe old age.
Margarita starts investigating, gets in touch with the French producer and discovers that the photographer had tried to escape abroad but had been caught and forcibly resettled in a distant village, forbidden from seeing her family and friends. Thirty years later, after the famous set designer has returned to Bulgaria, the two of them met by chance at a hospital where his beloved was working as a ward maid. Despite the enormous abyss that time and their different lifestyles had opened up between them, Reinhardt wanted them to move in together. However, she pulled away from him and died a short while later, and Max refused to leave his apartment for the next twenty years.
During her investigations, the screenwriter meets a Hungarian accordion player. Attracted by him and his music, she gives him a photograph with an enigmatic inscription on the back. It shows a jazz bar in Budapest that once was in the basement of the city hall and which had been closed down years ago due to a scandalous film. The accordionist leaves, and Margarita tries to deal with her sudden infatuation by weaving her love for the musician into the script she has to write for Max Reinhardt.
The accordionist’s music-centered life slowly starts falling apart. He tries to find the Bulgarian girl and to figure out why she had given him a photo of the only place he ever felt at home.
The thread connecting the characters is Gabriella, the producer’s daughter. She is also a photographer (Reinhardt had given her her first camera) and takes pictures of the accordionist and his group while they are playing in Barcelona. She tells him about Bulgaria and the abandoned city-set there by the seaside. She shows him pictures of the city that her father had taken years ago. He places his photograph next to them. Gabriella invites him to visit the place with her and the accordionist takes her up on it. In the meantime, she has written to Reinhardt, asking if they could meet. They haven’t seen each other since he left Paris, when she was around six or seven years old.
After a series of chance events that intertwine the destinies of the main characters, their friends, acquaintances and complete strangers, all of them meet at the jazz bar – after the script is finished – which turns out to be part of the city-set by the seaside.
The action in the novel takes place in the period between 1956 and 2012. The historical facts, the routes for escaping from Bulgaria to Western Europe and the refugee camps are all completely real. The permanent city-set by the seaside is completely invented. Sudden Streets seeks an answer to questions such as: what do we believe in – in chance, in art, in ourselves, or in the people who love us? How is it possible to live out two lives at once? Are historical events a backdrop or a main player in the lives of ordinary people? Where does the imaginary end and the real life begin?




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