cover image Nine Rabbits

Nine Rabbits

Virginia Zaharieva, trans. from the Bulgarian by Angela Rodel. Black Balloon (Consortium, dist.), $14 trade paper (184p) ISBN 978-1-936787-13-5

At one point, Manda, the blithe heroine and first-person narrator of this bubbly novel from Zaharieva, her first to be published in the U.S., uses the phrase “culinary rapture.” This seems particularly apt, since the novel is full of mouth-watering recipes, from the everyday (tomato soup) to the highly exotic (pumpkin blossoms stuffed with rice). Sex is also featured prominently, and depicted with equal joie de vivre. Brought up by her grandparents in the small seaside town of Nesebar, in the author’s native Bulgaria, Manda moves to Paris, ostensibly to study, but also, and seemingly just as importantly, to have many juicy love affairs. Manda leads a bohemian existence as a writer before achieving some semblance of domestic bliss with her young children, Ile and Toto (who sing, near the end, a nonsense song that gives the book its title). Manda lives a life as packed with incident as a Dickens novel but that reads as if written by Carrie Bradshaw, unfolding in short, titled chapters that resemble diary entries or blog posts. Zaharieva packs several genres into one, including but not limited to pastoral idyll, sexual coming-of-age story, and feminist memoir. Ultimately, she presents life in all its messiness and possibility, vivid enough for the reader to almost taste. (Apr.)