East of the West

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* WINNER OF THE BBC INTERNATIONAL SHORT STORY AWARD 2012 * Prepare to discover a fascinating country; a land buffeted for centuries by power-struggles and revolts, lorded over by Turks, carved up by its neighbours, and subsumed into the Soviet Union. Yet also a land of proud and resilient people, of crawfish hunters and bagpipe makers, shepherds and gypsies, in which daily life goes on. So meet the teenager who swims by night across a border river to steal a kiss from his girlfriend, the ageing man who finds a cachet of loveletters his wife has kept for sixty years, and the post-Communist girl, an avowed thief with a heart of gold. Here are Miroslav Penkov's beguiling, surprising and moving visions of his home country, Bulgaria: stories of people who mourn the way things were and long for what will never be, who wrestle with the weight of history, the debt to the family and the pangs of exile. And here is a remarkable new writer, who combines an eye for the absurd with great empathy to give a fresh and inspiring insight into our common humanity.