Text: Magdalena Gigova
Georgi Gospodinov became the first author in the history of the Novel of the Year Competition, organised by the ‘13 Centuries of Bulgaria’ National Endowment Fund, to win the prize twice. The tenth edition of the most prestigious literary contest nominated six out of 33 books presented by publishing houses and authors.
The award ceremony was held at NDK’s Peroto Literature Club, observing all sanitary safety requirements. Immediately before the official event, the jury, whose members were kept secret until the last moment, met to choose the winner.
The chairperson, Prof. DSc (Phil.) Amelia Licheva, along with her colleagues—last year’s prize winner, the writer Theodora Dimova; the Director of the National Book Centre, Svetlozar Zhelev; the literary scholar, Assoc. Prof. Yordan Eftimov, PhD; and the Director of the National Literary Museum, the poet Atanas Kapralov—met briefly and quickly formed their agreement.
The ‘13 Centuries of Bulgaria’ National Endowment Fund, establisher and organiser of the Novel of the Year Competition for a decade, chose to have an elegant and short ceremony in a friendly and relaxed spirit.
At the beginning, the attendees at the Peroto Club watched a short video where the six nominees presented themselves and their works: Stefan Kospartov with ‘Pigeonland’, Vasil Panayotov with ‘Shadow’, Yanitsa Radeva with ‘Greetings from Hades’, Kerana Angelova with ‘The Place Yantara’, and Georgi Gospodinov with ‘Time Shelter’. All but one logically chose the word. It was only the Askeer Award winner, Georgi Tanev, who had decided to ‘retell’ his novel, ‘The Residence’, without a single word, in the style of the old silent films, but with the memorable presence of a yellow stray cat.
Prof. Amelia Licheva emphasised that the jury favoured Georgi Gospodinov’s work because of its European conception of the world. The Executive Director of NEF ‘13 Centuries of Bulgaria’, Slava Ivanova, thanked all those involved in the cause of the Bulgarian novel and presented the winner with a diploma and a symbolic cheque with the financial expression of the award.And it is the most memorable in Bulgaria: BGN 11,000.
Georgi Gospodinov said with self-irony that he publishes one novel every 10 years and shared how, in 2014, he was nominated for seven European and two American awards but did not win any of them. And, that is why he had not forgotten the anxious anticipation and bitter courtesy with which he congratulated the winners. His conclusion was that it seems that one remembers better the honours he has not received.
The elevated mood of the tenth edition of ‘Novel of the Year’ turned into a friendly conversation over a glass of wine.
Photographs: Tsvetan Ignatovski