cover image A Short Tale of Shame

A Short Tale of Shame

Angel Igov, trans. from the Bulgarian by Angela Rodel. Open Letter (Longleaf, dist.), $13.95 trade paper (145p) ISBN 978-1-934824-76-4

Like the best of Continental literature, Igov's short and haunting novel manages to be about everything and nothing at once. The novel relays, with fever-dream-realism, the events after Boril Krustev, a grieving widower, and aging ex-rocker, on a whim, picks up a trio of twenty-somethings; Maya, Spartacus, and Sirma on leave from University to re-appraise their future. He hitchhikes along the highway, and travels with them along a mythic coast of an unnamed Balkin state, fraught with allegorical ethnic division. From this skeleton of a plot, Igov inhabits the consciousness of each character, moves backwards and forwards from the past to the present, and explores with affection the trials of middle-age and the melancholy of youth; from the blossoming of friendship, to the death of a spouse, from first love to infidelity; the fulcrum of the novel being Krustev's daughter, Elena, whose presence and absence animates this tale like Godot. With a radiant translation by Rodel, who renders Igov's prose with breathless lyricism, the novel, co-winner of the 2012 contemporary Bulgarian writers contest, is both a sweeping and small meditation on four intertwined lives, united and divided by both the unavoidable shame at the center of the human condition%E2%80%94and the manifest beauty of being alive. (May)