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Time Shelter


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About the Author

Georgi Gospodinov was born in Yambol, Bulgaria, in 1968. His works have been translated into twenty-five languages and shortlisted for more than a dozen international prizes. He won the 2016 Jan Michalski Prize for Literature, the 2019 Angelus Literature Central Europe Prize and the 2021 Premio Strega Europe. His most recent novel, Time Shelter, won the 2023 International Booker Prize.


The most exquisite kind of literature, on our perception of time and its passing, written in a masterful and totally unpredictable style. Each page comes as a surprise, so that you never know where the author is going to take you next. I've put it on a special shelf in my library that I reserve for books that can never be fully exhausted-books that demand to be revisited every now and then.
*Olga Tokarczuk, author of THE BOOKS OF JACOB and winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature*

In equal measure playful and profound, Georgi Gospodinov's Time Shelter renders the philosophical mesmerizing, and the everyday extraordinary. I loved it.
*Claire Messud*

Gospodinov is one of Europe's most fascinating and irreplaceable novelists, and this his most expansive, soulful and mind-bending book.
*Dave Eggers*

A powerful and brilliant novel: clear-sighted, foreboding, enigmatic. A novel in which the future gives way like a rotten beam and the past rushes in like a flood.
*Sandro Veronesi, author of THE HUMMINGBIRD and twice winner of the Premio Strega*

Time Shelter is Bulgarian writer Georgi Gospodinov's third novel, and for all its focus on the apparently bygone, it could not be more timely... It's funny and absurd, but it's also frightening, because even as Gospodinov plays with the idea as fiction, the reader begins to recognise something rather closer to home. Time Shelter was written between the Brexit referendum and the Russian invasion of Ukraine, both of which represent, in their own ways, the weaponisation of nostalgia and the selection of particular eras in the time clinic of the not-so-new world order... True to form, Gospodinov finds humour in the bleakness... This novel could have been a clever, high-concept intellectual game with little by way of emotional investment, but Gospodinov is a writer of great warmth as well as skill... His affection for that period is sincere but also without illusion. He can draw out fully dimensional characters from the broken details of their fractured memories. His transitions - between humour and sadness, absurd situationism and reverberating tragedy, pathos and ironic observation - are never obtrusive. Thanks to the skill and delicacy of Angela Rodel's translation, these qualities are in abundant display for the anglophone reader... The novel's title - Time Shelter - is a neologism in Bulgarian as it is in English, a grafting from the noun "bomb shelter". It's well found in its ambiguity: sheltering from time, and sheltering within time. Both are attractive but impossible. Nostalgia used to feel like a source of harmless escape, and occasional sustenance. It is starting to seem like a fossil fuel, foreshortening our future as it burns.

A genrebusting novel of ideas. This is a book about memory, how it fades and how it is restored, even reinvented, in the imaginations of addled individuals and the civic discourse of nations . . . His vision of tomorrow is the nightmare from which Europe knows it must awake. And accident, in combination with the book's own merits, may just have created a classic

The morality of artificially returning people to the past, and the broader question of whether this truly brings solace - whether indulgence in nostalgia is curative or pernicious - is the central question of Georgi Gospodinov's newly translated novel... Touching and intelligent

An immensely enjoyable book which achieves depth with an affable narrative voice

Mr. Gospodinov, one of Bulgaria's most popular contemporary writers, is a nostalgia artist. In the manner of Orhan Pamuk and Andrei Makine, his books are preoccupied with memory, its ambiguous pleasures and its wistful, melancholy attraction . . . This difficult but rewarding novel concludes with an image of Europe brought to the brink of renewed conflict - an abstraction that recent events have imbued with the terrible force of reality

Gospodinov cunningly draws attention to the violence that the past wreaks on the present.
*New Yorker*

Gospodinov writes like a botanist of the soul: he knows the effects that the pretty mushrooms and the hidden herbs within ourselves can do, in spite of what they look like from afar. The living beings he studies are our versions of our past, the unretrievable, the recreated, the future versions of our past, and how we imbue them with the fantasies and poisons that we cultivate in silence.

Georgi Gospodinov is unique in many ways. I've been reading him since the beginning and I know that no one can combine an intriguing concept, wonderful imagination and perfect writing technique like he can. This is great prose.
*Olga Tokarczuk, author of THE BOOKS OF JACOB and winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature*

In this book, time sneaks away, and then returns, reconstituted. Franz Ferdinand is re-assassinated. The cigarettes you liked as a teenager are on sale again. Communism is back, and nice. The book is a satire, witty and scorching, but it is also wise and tender.
*Joan Acocella*

An extraordinary romp through time and memory, a beautifully written and wonderfully inventive meditation on what the past means to us, whether we can recapture it and how it defines our present. This is the perfect novel for these cloistered atemporal times.
*Alberto Manguel, author of A HISTORY OF READING*

Memory and kitsch - and their painful congruence in post-Soviet Europe - will be familiar themes to readers of Gospodinov's last book, The Physics of Sorrow. The novels share allusive, discontinuous narratives, an appetite for switching genres, an alertness to the power and the fragility of authorship and a dark humour rimed with grief. But in Time Shelter, finished shortly before the start of the coronavirus pandemic, Gospodinov's sights are higher and his scope - conceptually and geographically - far wider . . . And the paradoxes that hummed quietly in the background of previous books roar into apocalyptic high gear

Gospodinov's digressive, philosophical novel is less a work of realist literature than an allegory about the perils of looking backward . . . translator Rodel keeps the narrator's wry voice consistent . . . the story achieves a pleasurably Borges-ian strangeness while sending a warning signal about how memory can be glitch-y and dangerous . . . An ambitious, quirky, time-folding yarn

A radical new therapy tests the power of nostalgia in the electric and fantastical latest from Gospodinov (The Physics of Sorrow). The clever prose sells the zany premise and imbues it with poignant longing . . . Thought-provoking and laced with potent satire, this deserves a spot next to Kafka

Georgi Gospodinov is one of the most interesting and innovative writers of this century and Time Shelter is a beautiful reflection on time, nostalgia and the soul.
*Camilla Grudova*

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