Open Letter & the Elizabeth Kostova Foundation & Two Bulgarian Contests

I never had a chance to write all that I wanted to write about the Sozopol Fiction Workshop (and some of what I wanted to write—skinny dipping in the Black Sea, “Kentucky Fried Happy Hour,” etc.—was maybe a bit too “you had to be there” to really make sense anyway, so, well, you’ve all been spared), but it was one of the most amazing literary trips I’ve been on in a while. (Along with Torino, naturally.) Sozopol is gorgeous beyond words, the seminar itself was fascinating, and the participants fantastic, but what has stayed with me the most is just how dedicated Elizabeth Kostova and Milena Deleva are to promoting Bulgarian literature. Not only have they helped create a fantastic seminar for both Bulgarian and English writers, but now they’ve launched two contests—in collaboration with Open Letter—to promote the spread of Bulgarian literature throughout the world:

First off is the Contest for Contemporary Bulgarian Writers, which will result in Open Letter (and possibly a UK press) publishing a contemporary Bulgarian novel in translation. I’m going to be one of the judges for this, and to participate, all a Bulgarian writer has to do is submit the following to Milena Deleva (mdeleva [at] ekf [dot] bg):

  • Minimum 30, maximum 50 pages from your novel (Times New Roman, 12 pt, double space);
  • Biography (maximum 300 words);
  • Synopsis (maximum 1500 words);

All materials should be in English language.

Closing date: 20 September 2010

Each Bulgarian writer is allowed to submit one novel for this competition.


The second contest is to support Bulgarian translators. Basically, the winner of this contest will be able to spend three weeks here in Rochester working with us on their translation project, help us identify more Bulgarian books to publish, and learn about the U.S. publishing scene. Because of the funding for this grant, you must be a Bulgarian citizen who has published at least three translations either from English into Bulgarian or vice versa. Here’s the info on how to apply:

The applying translators should submit:

  • Professional biography listing their major literary translations from/into English;
  • Synopsis of originally written in Bulgarian language fiction work, which they are planning to translate or refine during their residency at Open Letter Books;
  • Agreement from the author or the publisher of the book for translation. The book should be written by a living Bulgarian writer;
  • Translation sample of fiction work: 20 pages for novel or 10 pages minimum if applying with short story (please send one or more complete stories in order to reach the required minimum) The samples could be from the intended text for translation during the work stay at Open Letter Books.
  • Statement of Purpose explaining the interest in the fellowship, the relevance of the residency to the translator’s career, areas of literary interests etc.

Deadline for Applications: 27 September 2010

Again, all info must be sent to Milena Deleva at mdeleva [at] ekf [dot] bg.

Both are excellent opportunities, and I feel very fortunate that Milena and Elizabeth chose us to work with. And I look forward to reading all your submissions and applications . . .

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