Kristin Dimitrova, Interview by Silviya Choleva

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Writers need to go on writing in the language in which they have experienced the most important things in their lives

You may know the name if you are interested in modern Balkan literature. You may have read her short stories or poetry in anthologies and literary journals in Britain, Ireland and the United States; Selected, a trilingual volume in Bulgarian, Greek and English; or A Visit to the Clockmaker, a book of verse published in Cork, Eire.

Kristin Dimitrova was born in 1963 and graduated in English philology from Sofia University St Kliment Ohridski, where she is currently an assistant professor in the Department of Foreign Languages. She was also editor of Art Trud, the weekly arts and culture supplement of the Trud daily, for two years. She uses her spare time to write and translate. (The Anagram, a book of John Donne’s poetry that she compiled and translated, received the Award of the Association of Bulgarian Writers).

She has published six other books of poetry (Jacob’s Thirteenth Child;A Face Under the Ice; Closed Figures; Faces with Twisted Tongues;Talisman Repairs; The People with the Lanterns) and an unusual book of prose about Tarot cards. Her short-story collection Life and Deathunder the Crooked Pear Trees was amongst the best-selling Bulgarian books of 2004.

You teach at Sofia University and you were a journalist. How does a writer feel when she has to do a job which is not closely related to literature?

You can’t make a living out of writing fiction and poetry in Bulgaria, unless you eat only doughnuts. We are all teachers, journalists, museum curators, booksellers, office workers, translators, advert designers, librarians – all sort of things. Each of us tries to be closer to the language while arranging some words of his own in his head. But being at work all day, we have very little free time. Besides, writing is like marriage – it takes all of you to go well. Not an easy task.

Bulgarian readers prefer foreign books. Don’t you feel offended? Don’t you want to be more famous?

No, I don’t find this offensive. Rather, the situation calls for thought: we’re such a small nation but there are so many people keen on “breaking the established standards”. The reader has got scared. For me, fame is appealing only if it is related to what I do. Nothing is as pitiful as a name which is famous by virtue of being famous.

What are you working on now?

Several months ago, together with director Georgi Dyulgerov I wrote the screenplay for Goat, a film based on Yordan Radichkov’s novels. The script for my story “Etienne” is now ready too. We wrote it together with the young director Svetla Tsotsorkova. I enjoyed doing it.

Bulgaria is now an EU member. What will change?

The date itself changed nothing, of course. But I am sure that changes will start to accumulate gradually, day by day. And they’ll be for the better. Not that we’ll get rich without moving a finger, but Bulgarian financial slyboots, who are hiding behind the national border as if it was a fig leaf, will have to meet more uncompromising criteria for honest business. It is only fair that this happens to monopolies too. As far as I am concerned, I’ll go on writing in Bulgarian because this is the language of all major things that have happened in my life.

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