|Mystery cover explained below|
Waaaaay back in the spring, Thomas at My Two Stotinki hosted a giveaway of two Bulgarian novels. To my delight, I won this copy of 9 Rabbits, and he sent it off. It showed up at my house about four months later, having been through a postal odyssey, and I had about given up hope--but it did arrive! And so I read it.
I honestly can't quite tell whether this is a novel, a memoir, or--I'm pretty sure--a mix of both. It reads like a memoir, sort of, and quite a bit of it seems to be from Zaharieva's own life. It's all in little vignette chapters.
The first part of the book is about childhood; little Manda lives with her grandmother, in the country, and every so often her grandfather or her mother shows up. There are cousins and uncles, adventures on the shore, and a lot of gardening. Grandmother is no kindly nurturer. She's an unstable despot most of the time, angry at the world and her family.
Manda then jumps into adulthood, 30+ years later, a modern Bulgarian woman with an endless appetite for life. The vignettes become an avalanche of feeling and activity as she figures out who she is.
How I would love to be able to simply flip over and fall cosily back to sleep, snuggle up to Christos with his scent of cookies in the obliging darkness, the result of three thick curtains. But for two years now, someone has been waking up inside me. Some woman? She wants to get up early; she doesn't care about my exhaustion and imposes all sorts of activities on me IMMEDIATELY! Thousands of thoughts rush into my head about everything done and not done, who said what yesterday -- shards of dreams go flying and I have to hastily leave the bed so as not to go mad. I open my eyes, and if it's a bright sunny day outside, I wrap my head up so as not to see the light, the dawning day and all that impendingness. The horror that yet another day is opening up and I don't know why I'm living it.I didn't really find it very easy to read; it was kind of overwhelming, having all this stuff poured out of the book. I therefore read it at a fairly slow pace. I'll have to read it again someday and absorb it better.
I really appreciate Thomas sending me this book so I can learn some more about modern Bulgarian literature!
It took me well over a week to figure out that the cover image is a very, very close-up photo of a large tomato with a little split at the bottom. There is a cookbook included along with the novel and it has a photo of the same tomato at regular size. The recipes are all taken straight from the book, so they aren't any different, but it's quite handy to have them in a place of their own so I can try them out.