The Physics of Sorrow
By Georgi Gospodinov (Bulgaria)
Translated from the Bulgarian by Angela Rodel
(Open Letter Books)
Alternately funny and heartbreaking, this labyrinthine tale—befitting the Minotaur motif at its core—erases time and space to explore what it means to be a sentient being on this planet. The novel is unabashedly non-linear, leading the reader down blind alleys, from Classical antiquity to the twentieth century’s two world wars, with periodic, grim glimpses of life in Soviet Bulgaria. An exercise in the art of story-telling, The Physics of Sorrow offers countless possibilities for a dénouement. While hope is by no means guaranteed, it is never entirely excluded, either. Angela Rodel’s translation is magnificent.