Zaharieva, Virginia

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Virginia Zaharieva was born in Sofia on September 2, 1959. She is a writer, psychotherapist and the mother of one son, Rouben. Literary critics have labeled her a brilliant representative of Bulgarian ecriture feminine. Her poetry is as expressive, temperamental and unexpected as the author herself.

Virginia Zaharieva graduated with degrees in Bulgarian literature and psychology from Sofia University. She later specialized in analytic Neoreichian psychotherapy in Switzerland under Professor Valdo Bernasconi. Her psychotherapy style combines the achievements of western psychotherapy with eastern practices. She is the director of the Bulgarian Institute of Body Psychotherapy.

She is the author of three books of poetry: The Stone That Does Not Listen to the River (1989), The Hen with the Patched Up Eye (1992) and Quadrille Later in the Afternoon (1996). Virginias – her latest book is an anthology that brings together four poetic books (Ciela, 2011).

Her novel Nine Rabbits (QM, 2008) was nominated for the 2008 Helicon Prize for the best contemporary Bulgarian fiction and was the best-selling Bulgarian book in bookstores for 2008. It was also nominated for the prestigious Edward Vik Literary Prize for the best novel of 2008. Virginia Zaharieva’s novel Nine Rabbits, translated from the Bulgarian by Angela Rodel, was published in the United Kingdom by Istros Books in September, 2012. It is now forthcoming in the U.S. where it will come out in April, 2014, published by Black Balloon Publishing.

Virginia Zaharieva is also the author of The Mercy of Small Mirrors (Ciela, 2009) – a collection of essays on the culture of living. A book-mirror that reflects the person and his houses, and observes how people communicate, create and love.

She has more than 30 years of experience in all genres of journalism. Writing, capturing sounds, researching the psyche, creating performances and installations these are all part of her activities. She is the editor-in-chief of P.S. – the first gender magazine in Bulgaria. She created an audio CD entitled Bulgarian Natural Sounds and another CD The House of Medusa – Sounds for Creating. The theme of vulnerability as the only portal towards love gave birth to her performance piece entitled Vulnerability – 5 Motions, as well as a documentary with the same title. Between 2003 and 2006 she created several installations: For People and Mirrors, For Texts and Metronomes, For Text and 2 Toasters, and For Text and Tomato Soup.

Her hobbies are swimming, tennis and windsurfing. She adores Baron Munchausen, especially his ability to pull himself out of the water by his hair. She is the granddaughter of a gardener.


Synopsis of the novel Nine Rabbits by Virginia Zaharieva

The book Nine Rabbits tells the story of a six-year-old girl and a 46-year-old woman. Manda, the little girl, grows up during the height of socialism in the 1960s, raised by her tyrannical grandmother. А raw, funny and magical tale about childhood. Through adventures and horror stories, the reader shares the complicated path of a child determined to explore the world. Manda survives the lopsided battle with her grandmother, who is also waging open and covert wars with life, with the eternally absent grandfather, with their youngest children and with the workmen finishing up the family home along the Black Sea coast.

In the second part, 40 years later that same child has become a woman, now living in democratic times and racked by an identity crisis. Manda has swallowed up her tyrannical grandmother, turning that despotism against herself. In the heroine’s difficult process of awakening, every shattering of childhood matrices frees up space for spontaneity, creativity and love. The text bristles with insights that strike the heroine as a result of her concrete experiences, come to her in dreams or are overheard in the ringing of Buddhist bells. Nine Rabbits is a book about The Way and the fermentation life subjects each of us to. The geographic leaps – Paris, Osaka, Sofia, remote villages, Dominica, Lisbon, Moscow, St. Petersburg and Vienna – merely serve as a pretext for journeys within the heroine’s soul. Just as in the first part, the tragic and the comic, the beautiful and the ugly naturally coexist. They accompany Manda’s attempts to cope with modern living, with her taste for luxury, love and spiritual growth. Most of the episodes in the second half show the heroine in various emotional conditions and experiencing archetypal processes such as fear, shame, PMS, divorce, marriage, forgiveness, aging, death and finally love and creative work as salvation for a wounded soul.

In the second half, for Manda the world gradually transforms into a Divine Kitchen, where out of a mixture of characters, places, ingredients and situations she creates delicious dishes. The reader is rewarded for all the pain and suffering with dancing, harmony and abundance. While the first half sticks to the classical narrative of the past, the second part captures the pulse of the present. The work is rich in literary genres and forms, containing elements of scripture, diary, memoir, poetry and journalism, which define Nine Rabbits as a hybrid novel.

Nine Rabbits is a pregnant book – inside it there is another small book containing all 29 recipes found throughout the novel in case readers would like to try them in their own kitchens. In the text itself the recipes are sensory instructions for concrete action – a form of reality that calms and nourishes the furious text as well as the hungry reader.

This is a book about standing up for your own choices.

A handbook for loving yourself. A book about our debt to pleasure.

Nine Rabbits is a story about life as wakefulness at every moment.


Critical Reviews

“Virginia Zaharieva’s book Nine Rabbits is sort of a “notebook” written by a female representative of an urban, well traveled, educated and emancipated generation of now middle-aged Bulgarians. Zaharieva records her life with ease: fragments about her childhood, her adulthood, her professional and intimate life and her travels flow effortlessly and gently. What makes this book exceptionally pleasant is Zaharieva’s vitality, her guiltless hunger for life, for every bit of it. It’s a happy book about a happy personal life.”

Dubravka Ugrešić, author of Karaoke Culture and The Ministry of Pain

“Gutsy, fresh and vivid, this story of one woman’s quest through life will take you on a wild ride.”

Kapka Kassabova, author of Street Without a Name and Twelve Minutes of Love

Nine Rabbits by Virginia Zaharieva ranks among the most important Bulgarian books to appear in the past two decades …

…A unique women’s handbook for coping with modern life that drives home the singular importance of the individual person. Her example doesn’t say ‘Follow me,’ but rather ‘Become an example yourself!’

…The childhood pages are among the most powerful ever written in Bulgarian.

Nine Rabbits represents the noisy return of the writer to the literary stage.

…The book is among the boldest experiments in our contemporary literature.

…Without digging a grave for Bulgarian literature, Virgina Zaharieva’s talented, searching and hyperactive book proclaims the bankruptcy of the purely literary endeavor. With this work she challenges everyone who has the energy, will, optimism and naivety to believe that there is salvation in this big world of ours and that it is lurking around every corner.”

Dimitar Kambourov, Kultura Newspaper

“In Nine Rabbits, female identity and the desire to add more roles to one’s repertoire is transformed into a problem that is difficult to solve without the help of psychoanalysis, travel to far-away places, Zen practices and crazy performances. From time to time the rabbit farm gets a breath of fresh air – sometimes from smoking a little ganja, sometimes from poetry, sometimes from a recipe, sometimes from a calligraphic drawing in India ink. ”

Silvia Choleva, One Week in Sofia



  • Virginia Zaharieva:
    +359 2 664 766
    +359 888 814 995+359 888 814 995
    14 A Krastio Sarafov Str.,
    1164 Sofia,

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  3. Literary roundup: New Bulgarian fiction and a day of Kafka | literalab - [...] and a day of Kafka In conjunction with the publication of Nine Rabbits by Bulgarian writer Virginia Zaharieva, Istros ...

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