Project Description

We are going to tell you more about one of the Bulgarian authors that have left a substantial mark on the Bulgarian literary tradition – Yordan Radichkov.

Yordan Dimitrov Radichkov (October 24, 1929 – January 21, 2004) is a writer, representative of magical realism, born in Kalimanitsa, Montana District. He is an artist for whom the rules in fiction lose their traditional role. Radichkov is the creator of the alternative. That’s why the interest in his work is so continuing and diverse. He has been nominated twice for the Nobel Prize in Literature. His works have been translated into over 37 languages and have been published in over 50 countries around the world.

Radichkov’s literary career began as he started writing short stories for the Vecherni novini (Evening News) newspaper and his early collections caught the attention of readers and critics. In 1959, he published his first full-length book, Sarczeto bie za horata (The Heart Beats for the People), followed by Prosti rutse (Simple Hands, 1961) and Oburnato nebe (A Sky Turned Upside Down, 1962), all written in the socialist-realist official style.

This romantic style was gradually replaced by a style of parody and the grotesque, with an increase in folkloristic elements, including folk fantasy and humor. Radichkov began parodying styles and reality: his works deprived objects of their natural dimensions and took them out of context; he combined disparate genres and transformed reality into a comic theater, defusing absurd aspects of life by means of laughter. A mixture of the fantastic and the real, Radichkov’s works combined images of industrial civilisation with those of a remote mythical past, and were sometimes defined as a Balkan magic realism. His parodic style was initially met with animosity from the ruling Communist party (he was often accused of primitivism, escapism and dark agnosticism). Much of his writing (prose and plays) draws on characters and the ethnography of his native North-West Bulgaria. The fact that his own village Kalimaniza was destroyed and it site is currently under the waters of the dam “Ogosta” (1983) became a recurring theme in his writing and another metaphor for the detachedness of the “modern” world from the one to which Radichkov brings his readers in his reminiscings. Another major theme of his writing is nature and wildlife. In his prose he makes a masterful use of the often chaotic and irrational manner villagers and hunters narrate stories. Over the years Radichkov has gained popularity and recognition in Bulgaria and the international community, including a Nobel Prize nomination.

Radichkov’s 1966 script for the film Goreshto pladne (Hot Noon) was a story about humanity’s efforts to save a trapped boy from drowning in a surging river and was a huge success for the writer. Baruten bukvar (Gunpowder Primer), his 1969 novel, was the first in his homeland to talk about socialism through a powerful blend of profanity, fantasy and folkloric wisdom rather than simple idealization. The award-winning Posledno liato (The Last Summer, 1974) is a parable of a man trying desperately to stay faithful to his own identity in a dynamically changing world.

He also wrote a number of domestically and internationally acclaimed children’s books. Of these Nie Vrabchetata (We, the Sparrows) has gained particular popularity in Bulgaria.

Radichkov often illustrated his works with his own abstract drawings that have become another hallmark of his artistic presence.

Radichkov is particularly famous for his language and his use of dialectisms. Critics have stated that “the real main character in the work of Radichkov is the word”.  Probably the greatest manifestation of Radichkov’s impact on Bulgarian culture is the fact that his work introduced a number of neologisms and expressions in the every-day Bulgarian language.

Here we present a fragment from one of his works, “We, the sparrows”

“Да крачиш пешком по света, като си подсвиркваш небрежно с уста – мигар може да има нещо по-красиво от това! И най-нехайно можеш да пъхнеш ръце в джобовете си, и с най-нехаен вид да крачиш по полето. Облак смръщи чело, удари гръм и плисне дъжд, а ти вървиш пешком и си подсвиркваш небрежно с уста, нищо, че са ти мокри ушите от дъжда. Виелица се свие и преспи вълчи вдига, а ти вървиш през преспите пешком, като си подсвиркваш най-небрежно – мигар може нещо по-красиво от това да се измисли! И ей я бледата зеленина, показва мълчаливо своя нос, пчела жужи по нацъфтелите ливади, а пешеходецът върви пеша между пчелите, тревата бавно се изправя подир петите му и цялото поле дъхти на билка. Дълбоко вдишва пешеходецът миризмите на младата трева и си подсвирква най-небрежно.” (“Ние, врабчетата”)