Creative Writing in Sofia

A very quick post this, from Sofia University. It’s my first time back in Bulgaria since the launch of the Bulgarian edition of The Descent of the Lyre in 2014 (incidentally, the original language version is now available in very handsome [amazon text=paperback&asin=9380905858] — and if you haven’t bought the book yet, then get yourself a copy!). It is also my first time at the university since a philosophy conference I attended way back in 2006. It’s good to be here again.

I’m here thanks to the Erasmus programme, making connections with colleagues in the English and American Studies department, talking about possibilities for working together, and teaching a few classes. As a part of all this, I’ll be giving a public lecture tomorrow evening on the subject of creative writing (see the link here). I’m particularly pleased to be doing this lecture, as for I long time I’ve wanted the opportunity to step back and think about creative writing as an academic discipline. Being under pressure to say something relatively coherent in public about this has given me the excuse to put some thoughts into order. After all, despite seven or so years teaching creative writing in universities (and many more years elsewhere), I still find it a strange and puzzling business.

What I’m hoping to do in my lecture is to indulge in a bit of utopian thinking, imagining what the discipline could be, why it might be something worth doing, and generally rethinking things a bit. One of my main contentions is going to be that the hitching of creative writing to the discipline of English literature—which is common to must universities in the English speaking world—limits the subject’s scope both in terms of how we think about the pedagogy of creative writing, and how we think about the intellectual content of the discipline. Another of my contentions is going to be that fine artists have more fun.

Anyway, I’ll see how it goes. It’s going to be a fairly substantial talk, as the Bulgarians have much more stamina than my fellow countrymen (most public lectures are ninety minutes, I have been told, but as a foreigner-of-little-stamina I can get away with sixty). And I’m looking forward to seeing what discussions the lecture prompts.

Review of The Descent of the Lyre in Bulgarian

I’m delighted to have a review of The Descent of the Lyre / Произходът на лирата in the Bulgarian publication Kultura (Култура), written by the wonderful novelist and translator Angel Igov. The review, which is only available in Bulgarian, is very thoughtful and considered  (though given my poor Bulgarian, I’m relying mainly on the powers of Google translate!), and deals with both the English and Bulgarian versions, as well as with some of the interesting slippages that have taken place between the two.

Read the interview here.

Extract in Dnevnik

There’s an extract from the Bulgarian translation of my novel, The Descent of the Lyre, or (in Bulgarian) “Произходът на лирата”, on the website of today’s Dnevnik newspaper in Bulgaria. If you want to know how the book reads in Bulgarian, then go to the link here. I’ll be following the comments with interest, but feel inordinately pleased with the person who said that I’m clearly not British because the book is, you know, poetic and stuff like that…

Press Clippings from Bulgaria

I’ve been sent a few media clippings from the recent launch of Произходът на лирата (The Descent of the Lyre) in Bulgaria, so I thought I’d upload them here. You can click the tabs below, and download the articles as PDF files.

An interview with Presa/Преса, published on 16th April 2014.




A write-up in Weekend/Уикенд, 5th-11th April 2014.




And finally a brief feature in Monitor/Монитор from 5th April, 2014.



Interviews, Meetings and Plans

Today I catch the flight back to Manchester, and then head home to Leicester. The last couple of weeks in Bulgaria have been busy. At the last count, in the last ten days or so, I’ve done two book launches, one creative writing workshop, one school visit, one literary and cultural evening, two radio interviews, one TV interview, and five or so more media interviews. In addition, it has been an absolute delight to meet up with so many old and new friends, and to have all kinds of meetings making plans for future projects and collaborations.

I’m hoping to be back in Bulgaria before long. But until then, here’s my interview on Bulgarian National TV where — thanks to the miracle of dubbing — I’m miraculously fluent.

A Blog Post about Hospitality, Books and Big Sticks

In the town of Omurtag, Hasan the geographer welcomed me with a story about the perils of refusing hospitality. Hasan is a vigorous man in his late forties, and he is locally famous for his fierce home-made rakia (although, being a Muslim, he doesn’t drink any of it himself). He has about him an air of restless intellectual curiosity. He is an Esperanto speaker, an expert on the history of local place names, a respected scholar, a translator, and a compiler of collections of folk tales. Read more

Photo Gallery from Sofia Launch

Photographs from the Sofia launch of The Descent of the Lyre in Bulgarian translation, Произходът на лирата on 8th April 2014.

Thanks to all the photographers, and to everybody involved! It was a great evening.


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