"We needed quite some time to pull ourselves together after the battles, to climb down off our horses, and reenter the dull Bulgarian world."
"We bang around like Minotaurs in these basements."
"We're talking about the abandonment and forcible confinement of a child, branded by his origins, for which he is not to blame."
The novel is also interested in the nature and purpose of stories:
"I can't offer a linear story, because no labyrinth and no story is ever linear."
"...stories always end in one of two ways--with a child or with a death."
"Researchers believe that the conscious cultivation of empathy, including through the reading of novels (see S. Keen), will make communication far easier and will save us from future world cataclysms."
The novel is essayistic and episodic in the way of W. G. Sebald or Olga Tokarczuk's Flights. If you like that sort of thing. I do, and I did in this case--quite a lot, in fact. I was on a bit of Gospodinov bender the last month. This was the third of his I read--pretty much all of him in English--and I thought the best. The others were his first novel Natural Novel and a collection of stories And Other Stories. (But kind of schematic titles, don't you think?) He's also a poet, which should probably be published under the title, Some Poetry, but I don't know that any has made it into English. My visit to Bulgaria for the European Reading Challenge at Rose City Reader: