Subscribe to Granta today

Best Untranslated Writers: Petar Delchev

|

The Best Untranslated Writers series – in which well-known writers select and showcase fellow writers from their own languages who are not yet widely translated – began with a trio of Brazilians and was followed by Valeria Luiselli on Sergio Pitol, Etgar Keret on Gadi Taub, Edwidge Danticat on Kettly Mars and Santiago Roncagliolo on Guadalupe Nettel. Today, Miroslav Penkov introduces Peter Delchev.

The Brave Words of Petar Delchev

I grew up in Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria, in a two-bedroom apartment instead of a shepherd’s hut, surrounded not by flocks of white sheep but by packs of buses and electric trains. And yet, I’m a peasant at heart. I’m drawn furiously to the Bulgarian mountain; in love with the Bulgarian village. And so, I’m drawn to the stories of Petar Delchev – collected in two slim volumes that I hope will one day find their way to the heart of the English-speaking reader.

Born in 1971, Petar Delchev (Петър Делчев) graduated from a technical school, then joined the Bulgarian army as a border guard. He tried his luck at university, but never completed his two attempted majors. A certified sailor, he spent time sailing the Black Sea. At one point, he owned a small carpentry factory, at another he installed billboards, constructed spectator stands for beach volleyball matches, organized kickboxing tournaments. Lately, he has been restoring ruined village houses, managing a tailoring factory... and, of course, writing fiction.

Mr Delchev published his debut collection – Trun Stories (Трънски разкази) – in 2006. Trun (Bulgarian for “thorn”) is an ancient town near the border with Serbia; the region is poor, its villages decaying, its people wild. Their tongue is peculiar – a dialect that sadly will be lost in translation. But Mr Delchev’s dialogue is strong and vivid, and I’m sure will burn with life in English, the way it burns in Bulgarian. The stories are translatable, because the characters, though uniquely Bulgarian, are also deeply human. Like the shepherd, who in hopes of turning his life around, accepts a fatal challenge – to kill a lone wolf, barehanded. Or the mother who, desperate to protect her honour, takes the life of her unborn children. A father descends into madness, his daughter with child from a dead man; a priest hangs himself beside the church bell, heartbroken by his flock’s godlessness . . . Yes, these are not light-hearted stories for the light of heart. And neither are the three long tales in Mr Delchev’s second book – Balkan Suite (Балканска сюита) – based on Bulgarian myth, legend, historical fact; they are a product of, as their author admits in an interview, meticulous research.

Meticulous research too lays the foundation of Mr Delchev’s third book – Casting for a Messiah (Кастинг за Месия) – his debut novel, published in Bulgaria last December (Ciela 2012). The year is 2054 and a small island in the South Pacific is hosting an unusual assembly – thousands of Christians, officials from all world denominations, have gathered in hopes of overcoming their age-old differences and creating one unified and all-powerful Church. An omniscient third person point of view; a cast ranging wildly from clergy to journalists to captains of the Russian navy and Chinese mobsters; a page count that goes well over five hundred; and the intention that this is only part one of two books make Mr Delchev’s novel a grand, daring, if flawed undertaking.

That the novel has flaws comes with the territory. It’s admirable that some of these flaws arise from Mr Delchev’s bravery and great ambition; it’s sad that others spawn from the fact that in Bulgaria today, there are no editors who work with the author, help him develop an idea, push him to write and then rewrite and then rewrite some more. But this is perhaps a subject of another conversation.

I’m talking now of Mr Delchev’s bravery; of his books rightly loved by a faithful following of Bulgarian readers; of his words, still untranslated, which one day, I hope, will ring out in many foreign tongues.

Images from Petar Delchev’s Facebook fan page.

Comments (49)

You need to create an account or log in to comment.

  1. Sinibaldi

    Tue Jul 02 15:28:14 BST 2013

    Danza y poesía.

    Como la rima
    de una hoja
    que brilla,
    como el sol
    que regresa
    en el llanto
    infinito de una
    noche encantada.

    Francesco Sinibaldi

    #
  2. Arthur Mustache

    Mon Feb 17 23:46:20 GMT 2014

    "A peasant at heart" is one of the greatest lines that I've ever seen. I've felt that about myself a thousand times, but never thought to put it quite like that. Typically, "I was born in the wrong era" is the other version of what this quote kind of means to me. A little less drastic maybe, though. http://www.amazon.com/Triple-Action-Vitamin-Serum-Hyaluronic/dp/B00FFANXMM

    #
  3. travis.mccmis

    Mon Dec 16 11:01:43 GMT 2013

    I know what you mean, I read some of his books!
    http://www.yachtbooker.de/Yachtcharter-ostsee.html

    #
  4. karismas

    Thu Mar 20 13:26:03 GMT 2014

    I have 2 BH palettes, but I'm not sure how interested you'd be in swapping them, I could check through my stash to see if I have anything you'd like to swap if you're not interested in them, they're the 120 colour 1st edition and 28 colour smokey eye. Both only swatched a bit, I decided I wasn't too crazy on bright colours.

    #
  5. bidadari

    Sat Jan 04 23:35:26 GMT 2014

    às vezes não nos damos conta que significava muito para nós, mas pelo menos nós apreciamos o trabalho dos outros, muito obrigado, o seu artigo é muito inspirador para mim. Muito obrigado
    se ele também cai nessa categoria? sim parece que é verdade o que você diz sobre isso. obrigado antecipadamente, naquela manhã lá, minha querida, você sempre Mobil Sedan Corolla
    http://tarainafrica.blogspot.com/2013/12/mblsedancorolla.html
    http://t.co/T62xke9E4w
    http://goo.gl/BHtWzf
    http://redir.ec/7Hn2y
    http://tinyurl.com/luca6od
    http://chirpstory.com/li/178897
    http://www.beshopp.com
    https://www.facebook.com/RusiaNews/posts/574471802628918
    http://seribumotor.blogspot.com

    #
  6. khare

    Thu Jul 17 17:00:16 BST 2014

    <a href="http://ArizonaJumboLoans.com/contactUs.php">How to Find Us</a> Contact Us Link Page, that is it for my Site Here http://ArizonaJumboLoans.com/contactUs.php !

    #
  7. Jeff

    Sun Jan 19 09:45:48 GMT 2014

    Hi excellent post, a friend of mine referred to this page when searching similar info, great stuff. http://trickphotographyhow.com

    #
  8. rorobert

    Fri Oct 24 09:33:15 BST 2014

    Bulgarian writer Peter Delchev is preparing to beat a record. He should cover Batumi-Varna distance by kayak. The writer thinks that if he will pass 3 miles per hour, he will need 25 days to establish a record.
    http://jocuricubarbiepenet.blogspot.ro

    #
  9. .

    Tue Oct 07 18:56:29 BST 2014

    No doubt this is an excellent post I got a lot of knowledge after good luck. Theme of blog is excellent there is almost everything to read, Brilliant post. http://vasectomy-cost.tumblr.com/

    #
  10. Arol

    Tue Oct 14 10:03:55 BST 2014

    A blog post is very amazing. We truly thank you for your blog post. You will find many approaches after visiting your post. I'm really looking for. Thanks for the post and please keep it up. Great work.

    http://theallfreesoftware.blogspot.com

    #
  11. galihadiputra

    Thu Oct 16 07:55:37 BST 2014

    ‘Lloyd? But whey di pickney is, eeh? Him is pure crosses. Di good Lord only know di trouble I seen.’ It was his mother’s voice. He stood and turned to meet her. ‘You waan get sick, pickney? Out here inna di pourin rain a nighttime?’ She stood under the brightly coloured umbrella someone had left on the bus. ‘Come. You grandfadda be aaright. You tink di sea can kill him?’ Lloyd walked towards his mother and the shelter of the umbrella and together, they walked through the dark streets of Kingston, the dirty rain water sweeping the streets, masking the smell of sewage, taking the garbage of the city into the sea. Lloyd heard his grandfather’s voice in his mind: I come from a line of fishermen.
    http://www.ionliga.com
    http://arenaliga.com/
    http://www.topseonow.com
    http://www.yurosie.web.id
    http://www.topseonow.com/855online-com-agen-bola-sbobet-ibcbet-casino-338a-tangkas-togel-online-indonesia-terpercaya/
    http://www.topseonow.com/rajamerah-com-situs-judi-poker-online-terbaik-terpercaya/
    http://www.topseonow.com/bolapelangi-com-agen-bola-sbobet-ibcbet-casino-338a-tangkas-togel-online-indonesia-terpercaya/
    http://www.topseonow.com/idrpoker-com-agen-texas-poker-online-indonesia-terpercaya/
    http://www.topseonow.com/daunpkr-com-agen-domino-online-indonesia-terbaik-terbesar-dan-terpercaya/
    http://www.topseonow.com/ingatpoker-com-agen-poker-online-terpercaya-dan-terbesar-di-indonesia/
    http://www.yurosie.web.id/855online-com-agen-bola-sbobet-ibcbet- #

  12. Harrys76

    Mon Aug 04 06:31:47 BST 2014

  13. 4

    Mon Oct 13 12:35:13 BST 2014

    No doubt this is an excellent post I got a lot of knowledge after good luck. Theme of blog is excellent there is almost everything to read, Brilliant post. http://vasectomycost0.wordpress.com/

    #
  14. khare

    Fri Jun 13 07:20:45 BST 2014

    <a href="https://sites.google.com/site/dmaportland/">D.M.A. Portland, OR</a> Company Function: DMA Portland reviews effectiveness of marketing channels of a national vendor in the local Portland, OR metropolitan area. For more information on DMA Portland, please visit the website https://sites.google.com/site/dmaportland/ ...

    #
  15. khare

    Fri Jun 13 07:24:35 BST 2014

    <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W-93rum-7ws">advertising</a> strategiccampaignsinc.weebly.com Strategic Campaigns Inc (Kansas City, MO) reviews what its like working at the company. Management at Strategic Campaigns Inc reviews why this Kansas City marketing company drives results for some of the largest Fortune 500 companies in the world. Please visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W-93rum-7ws ...

    #
  16. khare

    Fri Jun 13 07:29:12 BST 2014

    <a href="http://www.linkedin.com/company/veritas-inc-">Veritas Inc marketing info</a> Veritas Inc Reviews Success of Cheeseburgers for the Homeless. Veritas Inc (Atlanta, GA) is quickly becoming the authority in sales and marketing in the Southeast region of the United States. The company attributes a large part of their success. Please visit http://www.linkedin.com/company/veritas-inc- ...

    #
  17. sanaro

    Mon Oct 06 11:07:16 BST 2014

    No doubt this is an excellent post I got a lot of knowledge after good luck. Theme of blog is excellent there is almost everything to read, Brilliant post. http://new-life10.blogspot.com/

    #
  18. Mark Foster

    Tue Oct 21 21:16:05 BST 2014

    Excellent blog you've got here .. It's difficult to find excellent writing like yours nowadays. I honestly appreciate Individuals like you! Take care mi40x https://www.rebelmouse.com/benpakulskimi40xreview/

    #
  19. awengcelweng

    Thu Oct 02 18:17:21 BST 2014

    The Girlfriend Activation System: Christian H. Reveals His Little-Known Step-By-Step System Even Dorky, Awkward, And Ugly Guys Whose Claim To Fame Is Being "Horrible With Women" Are Using To Meet, Attract, And Ultimately Date Beautiful, Loyal, And Committed Girlfriends. Click here to visit Christian's official Girlfriend Activation System website

    http://obatfrigid.blogspot.com/2012/10/Obat-Perangsang-Wanita-Cepat-Alami.html
    http://bit.ly/merangsangwanita
    http://bit.ly/perangsangalami
    http://bit.ly/1ByXDEj
    http://bit.ly/1wVbJPw
    http://bit.ly/fbperangsang
    http://bit.ly/1rxuCWU
    http://bit.ly/1xv9m9d
    http://bit.ly/1vqUV3L
    http://bit.ly/1vqtrt2
    http://bit.ly/obatperangsang
    http://bit.ly/alatpembesar
    http://obatperangsangalami.webs.com/

    #
  20. Mark Foster

    Sun Oct 05 18:13:41 BST 2014

    I am overwhelmed by your post with such a nice topic. Usually I visit your blogs and get updated through the information you include but today’s blog would be the most appreciable. Well done!
    http://tracks.roojoom.com/u/laurajohnson,7303/the-ultimate-herpes-protocol-scam-does-it-work,13160

    #
  21. Galarz

    Sat Oct 11 15:03:17 BST 2014

    Auto Mobile Code
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DRPRY1dpACE

    Secret Millionaire Society
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FQEC9_t-f5o

    My Cash Bot
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ULaVkwy251w

    Auto Mobile Binary
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WbD2UuM64j4

    Newbie Launch Formula
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0jjnjQGm_o0

    223 Average People Made $1857 A Day for 90 Days With This Cash Bot! Can YOU? Watch This Video NOW! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ULaVkwy251w

    #
  22. Laurie

    Wed Jul 02 03:12:03 BST 2014

    Of course, these films are available on different channels throughout the year. The popular series of movies featuring this world-known espionage character can be found on the random weekend on occasion. This just wasn’t good enough for use. We liked the idea of watching a James Bond movie when we wanted to.

    http://www.filmstreaming-vf.com

    #
  23. dev01

    Thu Aug 14 12:48:39 BST 2014

    Thanks for providing useful information. I appreciate your professional approach. Thank you for the efforts you made in writing this post. I am hoping I'll see more great things from you http://www.farwaycasino.com/ and http://www.pokerking21.com/

    #
  24. dev01

    Wed Aug 20 11:54:14 BST 2014

    Great post! I am actually getting ready to across this information, is very helpful my friend. Also great blog here with all of the valuable information you have. Keep up the good work you are doing here.Visit More At <a href="http://www.pokerstars-nederlands.com">Poker Stars Nederlands</a> and <a href="http://www.casinoroyalenyc.com">Casino Royal Nyc</a>.

    #
  25. dev01

    Wed Aug 20 11:55:06 BST 2014

    Great post! I am actually getting ready to across this information, is very helpful my friend. Also great blog here with all of the valuable information you have. Keep up the good work you are doing here Visit More At http://www.pokerstars-nederlands.com and http://www.casinoroyalenyc.com

    #
  26. Marky Mark

    Wed Aug 20 15:01:12 BST 2014

    Once you admit that there is a problem in your relationship with your spouse, you will now need to take a look under the hood of your partnership because, in a lot of cases, you cannot see what's wrong by what's on the surface. http://www.herbaldiets.org ... http://www.unpins.com

    #
  27. johnsmith3755102

    Sun Sep 21 09:53:36 BST 2014

    <a href="http://www.cinselmalzemeler.com">erotik shop</a> It's a great pleasure reading your post.It's full of information I am looking for and <a href="http://www.emanuelshop.com">sex shop</a> I love to post a comment that "The content of your post is awesome" Great work! <a href="http://www.cinselfantaziurunleri.com">seks shop</a>

    #
  28. johnsmith3755102

    Sun Sep 21 09:55:47 BST 2014

    <a href="http://www.geciktiriciler.com">geciktirici</a> | <a href="http://www.turksexmarket.com">şişme bebek</a> I enjoyed reading your post and found it to be informative and to the topic. Thank you for not rambling on and on just to fill the page. Thanks.. <a href="http://www.shop216.com">sex shop</a> | <a href="http://www.sismebebek.org">şişme bebek</a>

    #
  29. johnsmith3755102

    Sun Sep 21 09:51:31 BST 2014

    <a href="http://www.fantaziservisi.com">sexshop</a> I want you to thank for your time of this wonderful read!!! I definately enjoy every little bit of it and <a href="http://www.pornokategori.info">Porno</a> I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff of your blog a must read blog!!!! <a href="http://www.sexfix.net">Sex İzle</a>

    #
  30. dev01

    Mon Sep 08 13:30:27 BST 2014

    Anyway I wanted to say that it's nice to know that someone else also mentioned this as I had trouble finding the same info elsewhere. If you want to know more visit http://www.abcasinoconsult.com/ and http://www.casinosonthego.com/ or http://www.grandparkercasinos.com

    #
  31. gameboq

    Wed Oct 01 16:48:35 BST 2014

    good experience, I can learn with this story. Thanks. :)
    http://gameboq.blogspot.com/

    #
  32. Mark Foster

    Sun Sep 14 10:21:52 BST 2014

    Creating quality websites will help to spread positive information. Hopefully what is done with this site always provide inspiration and motivation to progress the region. Bravo
    https://audioboo.fm/diabetesmom

    #
  33. johnsmith3755102

    Tue Sep 23 13:55:18 BST 2014

    <a href="http://www.pornonuz.com">Porno İzle</a> That is the precise blog for anybody who needs to search out out about this topic. You realize a lot its almost arduous to argue with you (not that I actually would need...HaHa). You undoubtedly put a brand new spin on a topic thats been written about for years. Great stuff, simply great! - <a href="http://www.hizliporno.net">Porno</a>

    #
  34. streamaw

    Thu Sep 25 16:53:46 BST 2014

    As they say, blogging is the contemporary term of creative and commercial writing.

    http://www.streamaw.com/films-streaming-policier

    #