Ivaila Alexandrova [ Bulgaria ]
Ivayla Alexandrova was born in 1951 in the Bulgarian capital Sofia. She studied Journalism and worked for the national radio station Christo Botew from 1977 to 2010. There she worked in the cultural editorial staff and dealt with the film genre. At the same time she wrote articles for various newspapers and composed plays and screenplays.
Alexandrova had her breakthrough as a writer with her debut novel »Goreshto cherveno« (2007; tr: Hot Red). It is a documentary novel, based on conversations, interviews and research in newspapers and archives. The focus is the Bulgarian intelligentsia is in the period around September 9th, 1944, when the Red Army conquered the country. The fate of painter and publisher Raiko Alexijew and his family is used to illustrate the background and outcome of the dawning of a new age. Previously regarded as an artist and writer, Alexeieff is arrested shortly after the invasion of Russian troops, tortured and murdered in November. Nevertheless he was indicted in a propaganda trial on March 12th, 1945 and sentenced to death posthumously. The main source of the story is interviews with his widow, who tells stories from her life to the first-person narrator of the novel: about the acquaintance with Alexeieff, his assassination and the humiliations that came afterwards. When »you are in trouble, friends disappear like smoke« it says at one point in the book. However, the widow of the artist also describes two other marriages, a successful emigration to Germany and finally, the return to Bulgaria as a gallery owner. The passages of the report of the widow are supplemented in a collage-like way with more interviews, including with a psychoanalyst, children of victims and perpetrators, as well as by documents, pictures and reprints. In the form of a literary montage, the author illuminates a dark section of Bulgarian history and creates »a document of the beginning memory work and processing of the near past« (Penka Angelova).
Ivayla Alexandrova was awarded the Hristo G. Danov Grand National Literature Prize, the Helikon Special Prize for Documentary Prose and the Elias Canetti Literature Prize for her novel in 2009.
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