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Zift

Zift

$11.95
Trade Paper
185 pp.
4.75" x 7.375"
ISBN: 9781589880597

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Vladislav Todorov

Translated from the Bulgarian by Joseph Benatov

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Retail: $14.95 / Sale: $11.95

"Pulp fiction by a historian of ideas." —Literary Weekly (Sofia)

"Tongue flambé." —Kultura

December 21, 1963: Having served 20 years for a murder he didn't commit, "Moth" exits Central Sofia Prison anticipating his first night of freedom. Instead he steps into a new and alien world—the nightmarish totalitarianism of Communist Bulgaria. In his first hours of freedom he traverses the map of a diabolical city, full of decaying neighborhoods, gloomy streets, and a bizarre parade of characters.

A novel of grave wit, Zift unfolds in the course of a single, frenetic night, offering a fast-paced, ghoulish, even grotesque—but also enchanting—tour of shadowy, socialist Sofia. To achieve his depiction of totalitarian absurdity, Vladislav Todorov combines the methods of hardboiled American crime fiction and film noir with socialist symbols and communist ideological clichés.

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  • "The communist takeover of Eastern Europe happened so quickly, and was so devastating, that it's no wonder I keep pulling these books off the shelf during times of political uncertainty. In Zift, a man nicknamed 'Moth' is released from prison after serving a 20-year sentence and finds his country of Bulgaria, now a communist state, completely unrecognizable. The book follows him through one night of terror and mayhem, where everything, even friends and family, are unrecognizable. Todorov was obviously raised on a steady diet of American noir, and it shows in the pacing, the language, and the shadowy depths of every alleyway, every street corner. It's not just the witty 'Moth,' but the city of Sofia, that, despite 20 years of oppression, endures." —Jessa Crispin on PBS's Need to Know [link]

    "...stalking its genre with the meticulousness of an assassin, while simultaneously parodying it. A novel that unfolds over a single night, in a single breath—and also reads that way...a black-and-white cinematographic vision of early-1960s Sofia by Night." —Georgi Gospodinov, author of Natural Novel

    Zift, Vladislav Todorov's debut novel, was a finalist for the 2007 Vick Prize as Bulgarian Novel of the Year and a nominee for the Elias Canetti National Literary Prize. Todorov also wrote the screenplay for the 2008 film version of Zift. Variety hailed the movie as "an instant midnight fest fave." Todorov teaches film and literature at the University of Pennsylvania.

    Joseph Benatov holds a BA and an MA from Sofia University and a PhD in comparative literature from the University of Pennsylvania, where he currently teaches.

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