The Physics of Sorrow

Open Letter. 2015. 270p. tr. from Bulgarian by Angela Rodel. ISBN 9781940953090. pap. $14.95; ebk. ISBN 9781940953106. F
As the protagonist states at the end of this book, "The past, sorrow, literature—only these three weightless whales interest me." In a narrative that only seems to leap about, he makes the Minotaur of ancient Greek literature emblematic of his and Bulgaria's sorrowful past. It says a lot about both that his Minotaur is no fearsome beast but a frightened creature in a dark and friendless place. From a grandfather's near abandonment as a child to "An Official History of the 1980s" to scientific experiments and the relentless sifting of the Minotaur myth (with Scheherazade thrown in to amplify the many side stories), Bulgarian novelist Gospodinov (Natural Novel) follows a thread through many caverns to a final conclusion: "We was."
VERDICT Not for those who like a light read but an intriguing way to feel the weight of history and a hard coming of age.
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