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This Bulgarian Writer’s Books Bend Time – The Gentleman Report – TheFantasyTimes

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By Jitin Gambhir

This Bulgarian Writer’s Books Bend Time – The Gentleman Report


While Gospodinov tends to avoid politics, “Time Shelter” delves into the realms of nationalism and nostalgia. The novel revolves around a Swiss clinic that caters to Alzheimer’s patients by recreating their happiest moments, which then cleverly transforms into a commentary on European nationalism. Taking inspiration from this clinic, countries throughout the continent organize referendums to determine which era they would like to relive. Gospodinov initially contemplated writing about these concepts ten years ago, as he witnessed Bulgarians seeking solace in folkloric traditions and historical reenactments as a means to escape their disillusionment with Bulgaria’s transition to democracy post-communism.

This longing for the past has been manipulated by populist politicians, who present it as the future. Gospodinov noticed similar sentiments emerging globally following the Brexit vote and the election of Donald Trump, which he believes arise from a collective feeling of sadness and a perceived lack of prospects for the future. He also interprets the conflict in Ukraine as not only a territorial battle but also a pursuit to return to a bygone era.

Mladen Vlashki, a literary historian, commended Gospodinov for his exploration of Europe’s struggles in coming to terms with its history and acknowledged his role in revitalizing Bulgaria’s literary landscape in the post-Cold War period.

While Gospodinov tends to steer clear of politics, “Time Shelter” delves into topics of nationalism and nostalgia. The novel centers around a Swiss clinic that treats Alzheimer’s patients by recreating their happiest moments, which then satirically morphs into a commentary on European nationalism. Inspired by the clinic, countries across the continent hold referendums to determine which era they would like to relive. Gospodinov first considered writing about these themes a decade ago, as he witnessed Bulgarians turning to folkloric traditions and historical reenactments as a way to escape their disillusionment with Bulgaria’s transition to democracy after communism.

This sentiment of yearning for the past has been exploited by populist politicians, who package it as the future. Gospodinov observed similar feelings rising globally after the Brexit vote and the election of Donald Trump, which he believes stem from a collective sense of sorrow and a lack of prospects for the future. He also interprets the war in Ukraine as a battle not just for territory but for a return to a past era.

Mladen Vlashki, a literary historian, praised Gospodinov’s exploration of Europe’s difficulties in reconciling with its past and credited him for revitalizing Bulgaria’s literature scene in the post-Cold War era.

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