East of the West

A Country in Stories

Miroslav Penkov

Picador

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"Penkov’s teeming stories accomplish in phrases what lesser writers take chapters to convey. . . . A collection of triumphs." —Susan Salter Reynolds, Los Angeles Times

A grandson tries to buy Lenin’s corpse on eBay for his Communist grandfather. A failed wunderkind steals a golden cross from an Orthodox church. Every five years, a boy meets his cousin (the love of his life) in the river that divides their village into east and west. These are Miroslav Penkov’s strange, unexpectedly moving visions of his home country, Bulgaria, and they are the stories that make up this beguiling and deeply felt debut. Animated by Penkov’s unmatched eye for the absurd, East of the West is a brilliant portrait of a country with its own compass.

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Book Excerpts

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MAKEDONIJA
 
I was born just twenty years after we got rid of the Turks. 1898. So yes, this makes me seventy-one. And yes, I’m grumpy. I’m mean. I smell like all old men do. I am a walking pain, hips, shoulders, knees and elbows. I lie awake at night. I call my daughter by my grandson’s name and I remember the day I met my wife much better than yesterday, or today. August 2, I think. 1969. Last night I pissed my bed and who knows what joy tonight will bring? I am in no way original or new. Although I might be jealous of a man who’s sixty years dead.

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Reviews

Praise for East of the West

"An agile and assured debut . . . In each of these stylistically old-school yet freshly envisioned morality tales, Penkov burnishes brute circumstances to surprising beauty." —Elle

"Splendid . . . These stories are not the promising work of a first-time author. They are already a promise fulfilled—wise, bright, and deep with sympathy."  —Alec Solomita, The New Republic

"Like Aleksandar Hemon, Ha Jin, and Edwidge Danticat, Penkov is a translingual. . . . His dexterous English prose [portrays] human beings left in limbo, without a compass." —The Dallas Morning News

"Penkov’s stories combine toughness, vulnerability, and bravado. . . . This is a sparkling collection." —Catherine Taylor, The Guardian (London)

"A fantastic collection that lives up to its audacious subtitle . . . Penkov’s writing style is clear and startling, filled with warmth and wisdom. . . . These are fearless, gutsy stories with tremendous impact." —Philadelphia City Paper

In the Press

EAST OF THE WEST by Miroslav PenkovKirkus Book Reviews
Read the Kirkus Review of EAST OF THE WEST A Country in Stories. A gifted Bulgarian writer explores the history of his country in eight sharp, heartfelt stories about home.
- Kirkus Reviews


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About the Author

Miroslav Penkov

Miroslav Penkov was born in 1982 in Bulgaria. He arrived in America in 2001 and completed a bachelor’s degree in psychology and an M.F.A. in creative writing at the University of Arkansas. He has won the Eudora Welty Prize in Fiction, and his story “Buying Lenin” was published in The Best American Short Stories 2008, edited by Salman Rushdie. He teaches creative writing at the University of North Texas, where he is a fiction editor for the American Literary Review.

Miroslav Penkov

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Miroslav Penkov

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Available Formats and Book Details

East of the West
A Country in Stories
Miroslav Penkov

Trade Paperback

Trade Paperback
Picador
June 2012
Trade Paperback
ISBN: 9781250007612
ISBN10: 1250007615
5 x 7 15/16 inches, 240 pages
$14.00

e-Book Agency

e-Book Agency
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
June 2011
e-Book Agency
ISBN: 9781429968829
ISBN10: 1429968826
240 pages
$9.99
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From The Publisher

Picador

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