University of Rochester

Milen Rouskov and Zdravka Evtimova Win Inaugural Contests for Contemporary Bulgarian Literature

December 16, 2010

Open Letter Books and the Elizabeth Kostova Foundation are proud to announce the inaugural winners of two contests supporting Bulgarian literature: Milen Rouskov won the first contest for contemporary Bulgarian writers for his novel Thrown into Nature, and Zdravka Evtimova won the contest for translators.

"What the Elizabeth Kostova Foundation is doing for Bulgarian literature is remarkable," said Open Letter publisher Chad W. Post. "The support they're giving to Bulgarian writers—through the Sozopol Fiction Seminars and these contests—goes a long way to help bring contemporary Bulgarian literature to the attention of readers throughout the world."

Milen Rouskov's Thrown into Nature will be published by Open Letter in the fall of 2011. The novel is an ironic, humorous book set in 16th-century Spain and tells the story of Dr. Nicolas Monardes, whose treatise "Of the Tabaco and His Great Vertues" (sic) was partially responsible for introducing tobacco to Europe. Da Silva—Dr. Monardes's assistant—narrates the absurd adventures of Dr. Monardes, who attempts to cure all ills through the "power of tobacco," until it becomes painfully clear that tobacco isn't the perfect panacea.

As a result of winning the contest for translators, Zdravka Evtimova will spend three weeks in Rochester, New York, working with Open Letter on her translation of Master Mille's Living Light and Other Stories by Boyan Biolchev and learning about the U.S. publishing industry. An author in her own right, Evtimova has also translated several English novels into Bulgarian (including Siri Hustvedt's What I Loved) and Bulgarian stories into English.

Elizabeth Kostova (author of The Historian and The Swan Thieves) helped found the Elizabeth Kostova Foundation in 2007 with the goal of promoting Bulgarian creative writing, the translation of contemporary Bulgarian literature into English, and friendships between Bulgarian authors and American and British authors. To this end, among other initiatives, the Foundation supports the Sozopol Fiction Seminars, the Contemporary Bulgarian Writers website, and with the support of the America for Bulgaria Foundation, these two inaugural contests.

Open Letter Books was founded in 2007 at the University of Rochester with the goal of publishing and promoting literature in translation. In addition to publishing 10 works in translation every year, the press helps run the Three Percent website the Reading the World Conversation Series at the University of Rochester, and the Best Translated Book Award.

"I'm delighted and grateful that Open Letter Books is partnering with the Elizabeth Kostova Foundation to support the very fine—and very interesting—literature currently coming out of Bulgaria," said Elizabeth Kostova. "These awards will do much to nurture the work of Bulgarian writers in the global literary scene."

"In the context of how few English translations of contemporary Bulgarian literature are published on an annual basis, I consider these two complementary awards both indispensable and essential to the mission of the Elizabeth Kostova Foundation," director of the program Milena Deleva stated. "These awards create new and much needed opportunities for both Bulgarian writers and literary translators. They also expand the Foundation's collaborative framework through two ideal partnerships with Open Letter and the America for Bulgaria Foundation."