- Paperback: 283 pages
- Publisher: Open Letter (April 14, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 194095309X
- ISBN-13: 978-1940953090
- Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.9 x 8.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 11 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #481,433 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Physics of Sorrow Paperback – April 14, 2015
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"A reinterpretation of ancient Greek myth, a celebration of story telling, a treatise on nostalgia and aging, a collection of insights into the nature of time, The Physics of Sorrow has it all."Randy Rosenthal, Tweed's Mag
[The] real quest in The Physics of Sorrow is to find a way to live with sadness, to allow it to be a source of empathy and salutary hesitation Chronicling everyday life in Bulgaria means trying to communicate Bulgarian sadness," which isto the extent that these things can be disentangledas much a linguistic as a metaphysical dilemma"Garth Greenwell, The New Yorker
"Bulgarian writer Georgi Gospodinov's The Physics of Sorrow unites formal experimentation with emotional resonance in a compelling exploration of how and why humans tell stories Gospodinov ruminates on the mazelike structures of the human brain, of cities, and of books themselves [and] juxtaposes the grotesque and the beautiful at once concrete and transcendent Both an intellectual game and a very human story, The Physics of Sorrow captivates."Elizabeth C. Keto, The Harvard Crimson
"Gospodinov's THE PHYSICS OF SORROW offers up a beautiful exploration of the inescapable maze-like nature of life. . . . [it] reminds us that we must never forget that we are not alone. We must never lose sense of who we are, who we were, where we come from, and where we're going. And we must never stop sharing the resulting stories of our wondrous explorations with the world at large because we must allow ourselves to feel everything or be doomed to feel nothing at all." Aaron Westerman, Typographical Era
"Gospodinov forces us to examine our own lives, expectations, and assumptions. He asks us to look outside of ourselves, to myth and family history and national history, to find meaning in a world that often seems cruel and cold. A mixture of grim humor, keen self-reflection, and even a bit of dogged optimism, The Physics of Sorrow is not to be missed." Bookishly Witty
"A time-traveling empath, [Gospodinov] uses story to call us to look beyond ourselves to what can root us and give our lives meaning in a world that can seem crushingly cold and cruel." Kristine Morris, Foreward Reviews
About the Author
Georgi Gospodinov was born in 1968 and is one of the most translated contemporary Bulgarian writers. His first novel, Natural Novel was published by Dalkey Archive Press in 2005 and was praised by the New Yorker, New York Times, and several other prestigious review outlets. A collection of his short stories, And Other Stories was published by Northwestern University Press. The Physics of Sorrow is his second novel.
Angela Rodel earned an M.A. in linguistics from UCLA and received a Fulbright Fellowship to study and learn Bulgarian. In 2010 she won a PEN Translation Fund Grant for Georgi Tenev's short story collection. She is one of the most prolific translators of Bulgarian literature working today and received an NEA Fellowship for her translation of Gospodinov's The Physics of Sorrow.
Top customer reviews
I cannot recommend this book enough.
Gospodinov uses the story of the Minotaur from Greek mythology to highlight three themes in his book: abandonment, isolation and misunderstanding. Jorge Luis Borges, in his short story “The House of Asterion,” provides us with the Minotaur’s perspective of his dwelling and his pathetic hope of eventual redemption. The Physics of Sorrow expounds on Borges’ characterization of the Minotaur as a creature who is worthy of sympathy and whose half-human, half-bull form are certainly not his fault. At some point in his young life Asterion, the Minotaur, must have been abandoned by his mother and placed in this dark, isolated and lonely labyrinth.
Georgi grows up in Socialist Bulgaria, which itself is an isolated and lonely place. The author points out that before 1989, 80% of Bulgarians had not left their native country. Georgi’s parents have good jobs, but due to the strict controls by the government on housing, his family lives in a cramped basement apartment, their own type of labyrinth. Georgi tells us that he is afflicted with the “Minotaur Syndrome.” Left alone from the age of six in this basement apartment he must fend for and amuse himself until the adults come home at the end of a long day.
Abandonment and isolation are situations which Georgi’s grandfather struggles with first in the story. At the age of three he is almost left behind by his mother at a mill and not until they are half-way home does one of his seven sisters realizes that he is missing. I held my breath at the vivid description of the toddler’s abandonment and thought “hurry up” as his sister raced back to gather the distraught and afraid little boy. The grandfather, who fights in World War II, also has one of the toughest choices to make in the novel: which of his two sons should be abandon because he cannot live with and raise both of them.
Georgi, the narrator, has an issue with truly getting close to a woman and shortly after his daughter is born he falls into a deep melancholy. At his doctor’s advice he travels and Europe itself becomes his labyrinth where he traverses from city to city and hotel to hotel trying to shake off his extreme gloominess. He abandons his family to try and save his sanity but he ends up isolating himself from the world even further. Georgi moves back into his boyhood home in the basement and now, living in this dark labyrinth all alone, the minotaurizing of himself has become complete. At the end of the novel he tries to use the language of quantum physics to describe, sort out and even deal with his sorrow.
The greatest lesson we can take from The Physics of Sorrow is one of empathy and compassion. At one point in the book the Minotaur is put on trial and given his day in court to defend himself against the charge of being a violent monster. He is half-man and half-human and therefore never able to fully fit into to any society, man or animal. This book shed a whole new perspective for me on the story of the Minotaur and the country of Bulgaria which, to be quiet honest, I have never really given a second thought.
Most recent customer reviews
This book is most definitely not for everyone. It demands a serious investment by the reader, who must focus on the content, structure, and intent of the...Read more