A distinguished jury chaired by Prof. DSc (Phil.) Boyan Biolchev, with members Prof. DSc (Phil.) Amelia Licheva; Prof. Plamen Doynov, Dr Habil. Hist.; Atanas Kapralov and Zdravka Evtimova, chose ‘The Tail’ for Novel of the Year in the competition organised for the eleventh time by the ‘13 Centuries of Bulgaria’ National Endowment Fund.
The award ceremony at the Sredets Gallery of the Ministry of Culture was attended by Deputy Minister Vessela Kondakova and all the nominees for the prestigious prize, apart from Hristo Karastoyanov. His novel ‘T for Tashkent’ was among the six selected from the 34 novels submitted. The other nominees were ‘The Sixth Finger’, by Deliana Maneva, ‘Woman in the Wind’, by Alexander Sekulov, ‘Mission Turan’, by Alek Popov, and ‘24 Hours of Labour’, by Vasil Panayotov.
It became clear from Prof. Boyan Biolchev’s words that the jury’s discussions did not go all that smoothly owing to the strength of the candidates. Deputy Minister of Culture Vessela Kondakova presented Zahari Karabashliev with a diploma and a cash prize of BGN 11,000. Slava Ivanova, The Executive Director of NEF ‘13 Centuries of Bulgaria’, reminded everyone that the writer was winning the prestigious prize for the second time. Previously, it was in 2018, with the novel ‘Havra’. She surprised him by presenting him with a catalogue of the ‘River of Tolerance’ International Youth Art Festival, held under the auspices of UNESCO, and the children’s novel ‘Dobry’, which has been reprinted thirteen times in the US, but which reached Bulgarian kids only a year ago, thanks to the Fund.
Zahari Karabashliev was moved by the publication and almost forgot that he had to speak as the winner of the Novel of the Year Prize. He expatiated on recollections of his life in California when he first heard about the novel ‘Dobry’ and was surprised to learn that the book written by Monica Shannon and illustrated by Atanas Katchamakoff was a must-read in American schools. He then admitted that he never prepared a speech in advance, but this time he had written something on his phone, as it was no coincidence that the event took place on 11 May—the Day of the Holy Equals-to-the-Apostles Cyril and Methodius.
He thanked for the top accolade and declared that the prize was an important incentive for any writer in troubled times. Karabashliev added that, as an author in a fractured period such as today’s, he chose to be as close to contemporary time as possible, but also maximally distant in order to be able to digest what was happening. And, most importantly, he chose always to be 100% perspicuous.
Prof. Biolchev concluded that language is the only territory without a fault line, it is the only unifier.