Bulgarian author Georgi Gospodinov expressed his desire to “capture the profound emotions of sadness and solitude that permeated the 20th century, interwoven with my own childhood recollections,” in his novel, ‘The Physics of Sorrow’, which found its way to Arabic readers in 2016.
Born in January 1968, Gospodinov has emerged as one of Europe’s most revered and acclaimed authors in recent times. Since 1989, Gospodinov has been honoured with numerous prestigious international awards, and his works have been translated into 25 languages.
In 2021, Gospodinov secured the renowned Italian Strega Prize. His latest novel, ‘Time Shelter’, won the International Booker Prize 2023 yesterday on 23 May.
While initially recognised as a poet, Gospodinov has skillfully expanded his repertoire to encompass diverse literary forms such as short stories, novels, plays, and graphic novels.
In his debut novel, ‘Natural Novel’ (1999), Gospodinov delved into the theme of divorce by unravelling the narrator’s discovery of his wife’s betrayal. However, the novel contains a myriad of storylines, including topics as diverse as the history of public and private toilets, apocalyptic theories, and the lives of flies.
When I asked about the integration of these disparate components into the fabric of his novel, Gospodinov explained, “In truth, all these components are intertwined, far from being mere coincidences in the narrator’s mind."
"The very title of the novel alludes to natural history as understood since the 17th and 18th centuries, when humans and the world were perceived as integral parts of a unified entity.”
“The novel revolves around disintegration, endings, and the futility of everyday life. This is why we find the protagonist pondering flies, reminiscing about the history of toilets, and contemplating the ultimate demise of things and the world.”