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REPORT - Translating Bulgarian Literature: Ambassadors of Culture in Europe


The discussion was organized on 15.10.2016 by MEP Setoslav Malinov (EPP) and conducted by Svetlozar Jelev. The event gathered approximately 100 people in the European Parliament, where some contemporary Bulgarian writers together with their translators and publishers discussed important issues on Bulgarian literature. What challenges do such professionals face? What does it take to make a good translation? Is publishing Bulgarian writers abroad a risky business?


  • The Bulgarian Writers - Teodora Dimova, Alek Popov, Emil Andreev, Zahari Karabashliev;
  • The Translators from Bulgarian - Angela Rodel (USA/Bulgaria), Helena Kooijman (Netherlands), Mariе Vrinat (France), Ksenia Banovic (Croatia), Viktoria Dimitrova Popova, (Switzerland), Giuseppe Del Agata (Italy), David Bernstein (Czeck Republic);
  • The Publishers of Bulgarian works abroad - Ivan Sršen, “Sandorf”, (Croatia), Susanne Schenzle, “Ink Press”, (Switzerland), Armand de Saint Sauveur, “Edition intervalles” France.
  • The discussion will be moderated by Svetlozar Zhelev, National Book Centre, Bulgaria.

All the participants touched on the importance of the European and national policies in this area of culture, such as subsidies availability, mechanisms for boosting and improving translations and book-publishing environment.

According to Alek Popov, one of the most famous contemporary Bulgarian writers, whose books are translated into more than 20 languages, polylingualism is both blessing and curse for the European Union. “Writers can only write books on a language they are in love with”, said Teodora Dimova, another famous Bulgarian writer. Those words became motto of the discussion.

Writers, translators and publishers were unanimous that there are several important issues in front of the popularization of the Bulgarian literature. The same problems are faced by all less famous European languages.

  • Lack of translators: this profession is losing popularity, despite of its importance. Without European subsidies, this sector faces serious threats of extinction.
  • Lack of educational lines: as less and less people are interested in becoming translators, universities offer less opportunities for proper education.
  • Bad image of Bulgaria and eastern European countries: those countries are mainly popular with their lower living standards. Many people are not familiar with the positive aspects of these regions. The participants offer campaigns for popularizing Eastern Europe and its cultural assets.

Stoyana Stoyanova

#EUEvents reporter