Dimitrov, Ivan

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Ivan Dimitrov was born in 1983 and graduated with a degree in Bulgarian philology. His short stories were nominated for the debut book competition at Ars Publishing House and his play Separation at First Sight was one of five nominees in the Slavka Slavova Chamber Play Competition at Theater 199 in the spring of 2010. He is the author of Local Foreigners, a book of short stories, the novel Life as a Missing Spoon, and the poetry collection Poet of a Portrait. He was ranked one of the top five authors in the Sofia Poetics Festival contest in both 2010 and 2011. In 2011, his play The Eyes of Others won the New Drama Contest in Shumen and it will be produced at the theater in Shumen in 2012. The same work was also featured at the Lark Play Center’s prestigious hotINK festival in New York City in March, 2012. In 2016, he published his second novel, Sofia Duet. An excerpt from it is now available in French thanks to translator Marie Vrinat-Nikolov. Ivan Dimitrov’s new short story collection, The Power of Words, is forthcoming from Janet 45 in the spring of 2017.


Synopsis of the novel Life as a Missing Spoon by Ivan Dimitrov

In an abandoned basement, twenty-one-year-old Nikola takes a packet of heroin out of his pocket and heats it in a spoon. Worried about the impression this makes on readers, he decides to tell them how he got to this point. One evening, he and his friends are heading to the book release party for a new Bulgarian novel (Nikola’s parents own a publishing house). On the way, they stop and smoke a joint. The girlfriend of the writer whose premiere it is rats Nikola out to his parents. He leaves for the seaside the next day. While he is gone, the rumor that he is a drug addict starts spreading among his relatives.

When he gets back, he is informed by his parents that he is a drug addict. To try to convince them that he isn’t, Nikola voluntarily offers to take a drug test – but his results are mixed up with those of a longtime junkie and he is put under house arrest to “get clean.” After spending several days locked in his room, Nikola, in a fit of despair, pretends to be going through withdrawal in front of his parents. After this bit of “theater” they believe that the worst is over and, warning him to watch his step, release him from house arrest.

Nikola soon gets into trouble again and after a short stay in the hospital with a broken jaw, he lands in a drug rehab clinic, where he meets Manson and Boyan, a narco-hedonist of longstanding. Boyan is at the clinic not because he wants to kick his habit, but rather because he wants to get high safely. He and Nikola become good friends. At the clinic, the doctors treat “addiction” with morphine pills. No matter how hard Nikola tries to explain to the other patients that the only drug he’s ever tried is marijuana, they don’t believe him. Finally, he pretends to be a user in front of them to fit in and starts making up stories about his drug adventures. The main character’s acceptance of the absurd existence forced upon him, his willingness to take on the roll of drug addict – all this makes the novel a modern Kafkaesque nightmare with a beatnik twist.

After some time, the patients from the clinics are allowed to go home, however, their treatment does not end and soon the morphine pills are replaced by real morphine. Nikola begins to develop an addiction to the “medicine” they use to treat him. At this time he meets the heroin addict Zhana and they fall in love. However, their time together is cut short – an anonymous tip to the media reveals that the private drug rehab clinic is more interested in collecting money from addicts’ desperate parents than in treating anyone. Nikola is sent to a narco-commune in Spain. He comes back a year and a half later, only to discover that Zhana, Boyan and Manson have disappeared. He tries to find out what happened to them – especially Zhana. At the end, we once again return to that basement, to witness the end of the story.

The language of the novel is street slang cleverly mixed with a more “literary” style. Its amusing literary references arise thanks to the fact that Nikola studies philosophy at the university, loves books and sees himself as a future player at the publishing house. He feels dependent on his parents, since he one day hopes to inherit the family business. This is also one of the main reasons for his weak character. The novel speaks about Bulgaria’s young alternative generation – about the streets, as well as the relationships between children and parents and generational differences.

Life as a Missing Spoon is a tragicomic story in which the main antagonist is a rumor, the label that society slaps on Nikola. The novel is organized into short chapters between one and four pages in length, written dynamically, with short paragraphs. It can literally be read in one go.



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