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Bulgaria is an alien land to most of us-we might visit it someday, but we wouldn't want to live there. In the 1970s and 1980s when poet Kassabova was growing up, Bulgaria was grimly Communist. Her delightful and insightful book is an elegiac paean to a country she couldn't wait to leave but now can't get out of her head. The wonder is that individuality survived at all during those stifling years of government-enforced mediocrity, but it did, as is abundantly clear in Kassabova's vivid descriptions of family, friends, and teachers. Years later, she went back for a visit. Much had changed, but more had not. Manufactured goods were still scarce or nonexistent; service was given begrudgingly or not at all. Old towns had been bulldozed to erect shoddy townhouses, and the Bulgarians still hated the Turks. Kassabova's readers will learn much about a country they generally don't even think about, sometimes laughing out loud and sometimes simply stopping to reflect. In fact, it's hard to imagine anyone who wouldn't benefit from this lovely book.
Posted October 13, 2011
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