cover image Wolf Hunt

Wolf Hunt

Ivailo Petrov, trans. from the Bulgarian by Angela Rodel. Archipelago, $20 trade paper (584p) ISBN 978-0-914671-70-1

Petrov’s sweeping novel, originally published in 1986, uses shifting perspectives to follow the lives of six Bulgarian villagers who embark on a wolf hunt one snowy winter night. First, the town comes together for the wedding of Kalcho Statev’s daughter, Radka, and Zhendo Ivanov’s son, Koycho. However, Radka is found to already be pregnant, and the day ends with her death. Secretly, Zhendo knew Radka had an affair and engineered the match to protect Radka and trick her father out of five acres. He tells Kalcho that he will return his land if he promises not to join the new communist farming co-op, to which Kalcho agrees. However, Stoyan Kralev has it out for all the private farmers, labeling them supporters of the opposition, and Zhendo eventually breaks down and joins. Elsewhere, Nikolin Miyalkov and Ivan Shibilev have been part of a years-long love triangle with a girl named Mona. Amid the ever-present political unrest, another love story develops between the co-op–obsessed Ilko, Stoyan Kralev’s brother, and a girl named Nusha, of whom Stoyan disapproves. Of all the villagers who oppose Stoyan and the co-op, no one despises him more than Kiro “Up Yours” Dzhelebov, setting up one final (metaphorical) “wolf hunt” in this complex and compelling epic. The late Petrov (1923–2005) shows with exceptional skill the stark impact that communism had on the villagers of Bulgaria, and this new translation does his work justice. (May)