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Natural Novel (Eastern European Literature Series) Paperback – March 1, 2005

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Product Details

  • Series: Eastern European Literature Series
  • Paperback: 120 pages
  • Publisher: Dalkey Archive Press; First Edition edition (March 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1564783766
  • ISBN-13: 978-1564783769
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,265,276 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

It's hard to read Gospodinov's first novel and not feel indifferent at times: composed of scraps, half-stories, jokes and character sketches that haphazardly weave in and out, this slim jaunt won't satiate anyone looking for a tight plot or traditional resolutions. Its airy ruminations, delivered in banal conversational style, don't offer much in the department of prose poetics, either. In fact, Gospodinov isn't interested in any of the usual conventions of the novel, but in the nature of writing a novel itself, specifically the irreconcilable condition of being both spontaneous, or "natural," and crafting a work of critical value. Though there is a story that flits about--a man named Georgi Gospodinov and his wife get a divorce after she becomes pregnant with another man's baby--it's more an impetus for digression and narrative destabilization than an actual plot. Without the usual anchors, the novel turns into a work of small strokes and minor wit: a conversation about oft-scrawled-upon public bathrooms and their "intimate toilet revolutions" is sublime, and the motif of a fly with its multipaneled eye, each containing a fragment of the whole image, serves the work well. Others have handled the question of fictional integrity with more fireworks, but Gospodinov keeps his work swift and unbothered in the face of an ordinary yet infinitely complex conundrum. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From The New Yorker

Gospodinov's anarchic, experimental début concerns a young writer, the narrator, whose marriage breaks up after his wife becomes pregnant by someone else. But this plot is little more than the framework for a lively assortment of fragments—dreams, lists, projected attempts to write a novel entirely with verbs or a Bible for flies, and a chapter called "Towards a Natural History of the Toilet." Inevitably, a book that takes such risks occasionally falls on its face; some of Gospodinov's scatology feels self-conscious, and pop-culture references, presumably intended to seem wised-up and Western, come off as just the reverse. But the hits outnumber the misses, and there is something engaging about the novel's stubborn refusal to amount to anything. As the narrator announces, "My immodest desire is to mold a novel of beginnings, a novel that keeps starting, promising something, reaching page 17 and then starting again."
Copyright © 2005 The New Yorker

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Julian N. Nikolchev on July 28, 2005
Format: Paperback
I was pleasantly surprised by this innovative, charming, smart and funny novel by this Bulgarian writer. Being from Bulgarian origin myslef, I found some portion to be particularly funny and they triggered memories of my childhood in Sofia. This speaks highly of the translation, which I believe captured well the nuances of the original language. In the novel, Mr. Gospodinov deals with many general topics facing our modern individuals in funny, clever and unique ways. I hghly recommend this novel to all and especially to those who are interested in learning about new talented writers from outside the major western countries.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Michael R. Hollar on October 5, 2005
Format: Paperback
I was loaned this book by somebody presenting it as an "out-there" post modern novel featuring a stream-of-consciousness flow. While it may post-modern, and largely s.o.c (much in the style of a journal), it struck me as much more than a literary experiement. Considering the amount of 3rd person narrative and disjointed "scenes"/short stories/chapters, I found it very engaging, never lacking flow and surprisingly impactful. I can't speak to how much Bulgarian culture came through or how much credit to give the book as an example of non-western thought but there was a freshness that complemented rather than detracted from the ideas laid out in the book - depth in the mundane, coming to grips with pain, and losing one's grip on the order of things (for better or worse)
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