Georgi Gospodinov

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Georgi Gospodinov
Author Georgi Gospodinov in front of a bookcase, circa 2005
Author Georgi Gospodinov in front of a bookcase, circa 2005
Born (1968-01-07) January 7, 1968 (age 55)
Yambol, Bulgaria
Notable awards
SpouseBilyana Kourtasheva

Georgi Gospodinov (Bulgarian: Георги Господинов; born January 7, 1968) is the most translated and internationally awarded Bulgarian writer after 1989, one of the leading voices of European literature today. His complex narratives are engaged with the memory of the recent Eastern-European past and the present anxieties of Europe and the world. Deeply human, they manage at the same time to reach beyond humanity striving for a much wider, non-anthropocentric empathy. Smuggling poetry into fiction, his style is both poetic and philosophical yet readable, funny, self-ironic. According to The New Yorker, “Georgi’s real quest in The Physics of Sorrow is to find a way to live with sadness, to allow it to be a source of empathy and salutary hesitation…”[1] His books are translated into 25 languages including German, English, French, Spanish, Italian, Danish, Polish, Turkish, Albanian, Icelandic, etc.

Literary career[edit]

Gospodinov began as a poet in the early 1990s with two books immediately noticed and awarded with national literary prizes in his native Bulgaria. He became internationally known by his Natural Novel, which was published in 21 languages, including English (Dalkey Archive Press, 2005), German, French, Spanish, Italian, etc. The New Yorker described it as an “anarchic, experimental debut”,[2] according to The Guardian, it is “both earthy and intellectual”,[3] Le Courrier (Geneve) calls it “a machine for stories.”

And Other Stories (2001), collection of short stories, came out in German, French, English, Italian and was longlisted for Frank O'Connor Award. This is the book that contains the story "Blind Vaysha", on which is based the short animation film of the same name (dir. Theodore Ushev, NFB and ARTE), an OSCAR nominee for 2017. Gospodinov has also written two plays, screenplays for short feature films, among which is Omelette [4] (4.44’; Honorable Mention at the Sundance Film Festival 2009) He is co-author of an art graphic novel, The Eternal Fly (2010, with the artist Nikola Toromanov).

His second novel, The Physics of Sorrow (2012), won three national awards for best fiction 2012–2013, among which the National Award for Best Novel of the Year 2013. The Physics of Sorrow is published in Italian, German, Serbian, Romanian, and in English in the US by Open Letter Books. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung praised the novel as “a gorgeous work that should definitely be read”. According to Neue Zurcher Zeitung “with Physics of Sorrow Gospodinov launches not only the Bulgarian literature but also himself in the European writers’ first league.” [5] In 2014, the Italian edition of the novel, Fisica della malinconia [Voland Edizioni], was shortlisted for Strega European Prize and Premio Gregor von Rezzori; the German edition, Physik der Schwermut [Droschl Verlag], was a finalist for Internationaler Literaturpreis - Haus der Kulturen der Welt and Brücke Berlin Literatur- und Übersetzerpreis.[6] From January to June 2019, Gospodinov was writer-in-residence of the Literaturhaus Zurich [de] and the PWG Foundation [de] in Zurich.

Gospodinov's recent novel is Time Shelter (Времеубежище, 2020) published in German, English, French, Italian, Danish, etc. The book won one of the biggest European awards, Strega European Prize (2021). It’s the most exquisite kind of literature, on our perception of time and its passing, written in a masterful and totally unpredictable style.“, wrote the Noble prize winner Olga Tokarczuk (Lithub[7]). In La Repubblica Gospodinov was described as “A Proust coming from the East.” (A. Bajani) “A powerful and brilliant novel: clear-sighted, foreboding, enigmatic. A novel in which the future gives way like a rotten beam and the past rushes in like a flood.” (Sandro Veronesi (writer)) In 2023, Time Shelter translated in English by Angela Rodel was longlisted for the International Booker Prize.[8]

Awards and nominations[edit]

  • International Booker Prize, 2023, longlist;
  • Strega European Prize, Rome, 2021, winner;
  • Usedom Prize for European Literature, 2021, winner;
  • Zinklar Prize for Best Short Fiction, Denmark, 2021, winner;
  • Angelus Award, Poland, 2019, winner;
  • Jan Michalski Prize for Literature, Switzerland, 2016, winner;
  • Prozart Award, Skopje, for contribution to the development of literature in the Balkans, 2016, winner;
  • The American PEN Translation Prize, 2016, finalist;
  • The Best Translated Book Award (BTBA), 2016, finalist;
  • Strega European Prize, Rome, 2014, finalist;
  • Premio Gregor von Rezzori, Florence, 2014, finalist;
  • Bruecke Berlin Preis, 2014, finalist;
  • Haus der Kulturen der Welt Literaturpreis, Berlin, 2014, finalist;
  • National Literary Award Bulgarian Novel of the Year, 2013, winner;
  • National Award Hristo G. Danov for Best Fiction, 2012, winner;
  • The City of Sofia Award for Literature, 2012, winner;
  • The Flower of Helicon Readers’ Prize for Bestselling Book, 2012, winner.


  • Natural Novel, 1999 (Bulgarian: Естествен роман, English translation by Zornitza Hristova and Dalkey Archive Press, 2005)
  • And Other Stories, 2001 (Bulgarian: И други истории, English translation by Alexis Levitin, Magdalena Levy and Northwestern University Press, 2007)
  • The Physics of Sorrow, 2012 (Bulgarian: Физика на тъгата, English translation by Angela Rodel and Open Letter, 2015)
  • Time Shelter, 2020 (Bulgarian: Времеубежище, is published in the United States by Liveright/ Norton and in UK by W&N, translation Angela Rodel; in France by Gallimard, Translation Marie Vrinat-Nikolov [9])


The 2016 animated short Blind Vaysha by Bulgarian-Canadian filmmaker Theodore Ushev is based on a Gospodinov short story.[10] On January 24, 2017, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science announced that Blind Vaysha has been nominated for Best Animated Short at the 89th Academy Awards.[11] In 2019, Ushev released another animated short film adaptation of Gospodinov's work, The Physics of Sorrow.[12]


  1. ^ Nast, Condé (17 April 2015). "The Bulgarian Sadness of Georgi Gospodinov". The New Yorker. Retrieved 26 March 2023.
  2. ^ "Natural Novel". The New Yorker. 6 March 2005.
  3. ^ "Fiction: Feb 19". 19 February 2005.
  4. ^ "Omlet (Short 2008) - IMDb". IMDb.
  5. ^ "Georgi Gospodinov: Physik der Schwermut. Roman".
  6. ^[dead link]
  7. ^ "81 Writers on the Books They Loved in 2021". Literary Hub. 27 December 2021. Retrieved 26 March 2023.
  8. ^ "Time Shelter | The Booker Prizes". Retrieved 26 March 2023.
  9. ^ "Georgi Gospodinov's novel "Time Shelter" to be published in France and USA". BNR Radio Bulgaria. 16 December 2020. Retrieved 28 December 2020.
  10. ^ Duchesne, André (29 November 2016). "Vaysha l'aveugle voit du pays". La Presse (in Canadian French). Retrieved 5 December 2016.
  11. ^ "Bulgarian-Directed Short Film Gets Oscar Nomination -". Sofia News Agency. 24 January 2017. Retrieved 24 January 2017.
  12. ^ Dan Sarto, "Theodore Ushev’s New Short ‘The Physics of Sorrow’ to Premiere at TIFF 2019". Animation World Network, August 1, 2019.

External links[edit]