"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.
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...
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