I can't speak to Miroslav Penkov's standing among Bulgarian novelists, but now that I've read STORK MOUNTAIN, it is easy to say that Penkov is my favorite novelist publishing in America.
A Bulgarian Don Quixote fighting windmills, his Sancho Panza a lost American grandson, and Dulcinea a Turk overfond of smoking dope. Add a smattering of Christian firewalkers, a touch of Muslim clerics, thousands of hysterical storks who deliver more secrets than babies. What you get is a marvel of a novel. Penkov has written a rollicking, poignant delight.
Miroslav Penkov writes with warmth, wit and emotional precision, and STORK MOUNTAIN is a gorgeous and big-hearted novel that manages to be both a page-turning adventure story and a nuanced meditation on the meaning of home . . . a fantastic book.
STORK MOUNTAIN is a timely novel when Europe - its entangled past and its uncertain future - occupies the headlines; it is a timeless tale too about the undying and undead, about dreams not paled by reality, and above all, about a young man's search for an answer by searching for the right question. What a tremendous achievement from one of the best young international writers.
Penkov uses classic narrative forms as a springboard for a dark, dreamlike debut novel steeped in Balkan history and legend . . . The characters' lives are beautifully interwoven with ancient tales and family histories, all deeply rooted in the landscape of the Strandja Mountains, home of black storks, fire dancers, and worshippers of pagan saints . . . a beautiful and haunting novel
To the honor roll of the Bulgarian literary diaspora, add Miroslav Penkov, who writes sumptuous English . . . what the Great Bulgarian Novel could be if it could be rendered in English.
Wildly ambitious . . . thoughtful and thought-provoking, with a passionate faith in the redemptive powers of art.
[A] searing, heartfelt novel . . . rich, enmeshing the personal with the political and historical, told in strange and vertiginous language that seems fitting for a tale of such passion.
An intelligently mapped plot complements the skilful blend of familial relationships with religious commentary . . . This is a historically rich study of borders: those imposed by cartography and those that are self-constructed.