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The cream of Bulgarian contemporary books embark on a tour

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Photo: private library

Sometimes it is enough if a book finds you and it can turn your world upside down. With the mission of bringing Bulgarian books to young readers, a bookstore on wheels will be touring the country this summer.

Iliyan Lyubomirov known with his penname Avgustin Gospodinov knows how to gather 500 people together to read his poetry to them. His fans are mostly young, so the poet will try to present to them the worthiest Bulgarian books based on his fame. Using a minibus with an artistic look – thanks to the graffiti of artist Nasimo, he is going to launch a tour with the motto Words on 4 Tires.

Снимка“The causes of the mobile bookstore are several. First, I am determined to debunk the myth that young people do not read”, Iliyan Lyubomirov explains. “Secondly, I should like to cast light on the good examples of Bulgarian literature because more often it stands out with the rows and feuds between writers and poets. Also, there is a problem with very scarce budgets of libraries and community centers for new literature. So, we are going to donate 20% of the price of every sold book to these institutions to enable them to buy more books. I think it is important to create large communities in Bulgarian literature and Bulgarian art and show society how to celebrate its living artists while they are among us.”

Iliyan Lyubomirov plans to tour 50 towns with his hipster as he calls is bookstore. The emphasis will be on small towns that are out of the reach of art and culture and people are eager for such events. All the more so that he is going to travel jointly with some of the best Bulgarian poets and writers who will present their books in person. The pilot meeting was in Sofia on 24 May, the Day of Bulgarian Education and Culture and of the Slavonic Alphabet.

“Indeed, there are too many people writing without a worthy filter – last year alone, 2000 Bulgarian books were released”, admits Iliyan Lyubomirov. “However, there are also Bulgarian books of highest world quality and they should not go unnoticed. For this reason, jointly with a dozen of the biggest publishers, we produced a selection of 300 titles of poetry and prose. I have read half of them and I can recommend them personally.”

The poet points to the novels The Bell and 432 Hertz by Nedyalko Solakov but also to the works of Bozhana Apostolova and Milen Ruskov, of young poets Ivan Landzhev, Dimana Yordanova, Kosnatntin Trendafilov, Irena Ivanova, Dimitar Ganev and Georgi Gavrilov.

“I believe that if you speak the language of the young, if you are open for communication and present your books in an adequate way, you will be read and acclaimed”, Iliyan Lyubomirov contends and gives an example with young people who read to crowds. “It is hardly enough to write a book and expect that while perched on the peak of your ego, people are going to venerate you. We do not have literary agents, marketing in book selling is underestimated as the fallacy continues that if a book is selling well it is no good and this is nonsensical. I however rely on my own experience and impressions and I believe that the energy between author and reader can be infectious.”

Once the summer tour with the cream of Bulgarian books is over, Iliyan Lyubomirov will be pursuing his new dream – to transfer the conversation about quality literature on a TV show. And until then he will rely on the butterfly's effect - if he succeeds this summer in winning readers for the Bulgarian books, the country will gradually disappear from the charts that rank us among the least reading nation in Europe, and more and more people will turn to the book shelves - some for the very first time.

English Daniela Konstantinova

Photos: courtesy of Iliyan Lyubomirov

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