18% Gray

Zachary Karabashliev, trans. from the Bulgarian by Angela Rodel. Open Letter (Longleaf dist.), $15.95 trade paper (264p) ISBN 978-1-934824-71-9
Karabashliev, the eponymous main character of Karabashliev’s debut novel, is experiencing a major life crisis. Once a passionate photographer, Zack moved with his wife Stella to the United States from Bulgaria, the author’s native home, to attend graduate school. After running out of money, Zack sells his camera equipment and lies to get a job at a pharmaceutical company in Southern California. Just as Stella’s painting career takes off, she abruptly leaves, fed up with Zack’s conforming to middle-class life. The sudden vacancy sets Zack off an impromptu journey, starting with an impulsive trip to Tijuana, Mexico, where he mistakenly steals a large amount of marijuana. With a contact in New York City, Zack takes off on a transcontinental journey with a new camera, rediscovering his passion and undergoing a personal revelation. Though inconsistent, when author Karabashliev remains unselfconscious, he’s fast-paced, quick-witted, and filled with childish humor in his perspective of a Bulgarian living the drab American Dream and discovering that he hates it. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 03/04/2013
Release date: 01/01/2013
Ebook - 264 pages - 978-1-934824-72-6
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