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 INTERVIEW Saturday, 5 November 2005 
 

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Wise People Don't Take Themselves Too Seriously

In human life childhood is the best span, says writer Emil Andreev

Picture One should look at the world with a sense of humor, the writer says
Photo: Boris Tsankov
 

The very first time when Emil Andreev tried his pen in the novel genre made him a celebrity. He became a laureate of the Bulgarian Novel of the Year contest in 2005. The contest was organized by Edward Vick foundation and Andreev won the readers' award. For his novel "The Glass River" he got a cash prize of 10,000 leva (nearly euro 5,000) and a guaranteed translation into English. Emil Andreev is a master of suspense and mystery. His novel is adventurous, gothic and very Bulgarian at the same time, critics say.

The writer, who was born in 1956, has a university degree in English language and literature. He worked as a schoolteacher, journalist, translator and professor of English in the Theological department of Sofia University. For two years he has been translating films for Discovery Channel. He began writing as far back as he remembers; yet it is only now that the critics and media started to make notice of him. Andreev's works have been translated into English, Polish and Serbian. Emil's wife is an office manager in EBDR; he has a 25-year-old daughter who studies political sciences in France and a 21-year-old son, a student in the New Bulgarian University.

- Mr. Andreev, when did you first feel an itch for writing?

- I have it since my childhood. I was born on the Danube, the town of Lom. I grew up there and often describe this land. This town is a wonderful combination of ethnic groups who live peacefully together and boast a tremendously rich culture. The atmosphere of tolerance in this town is an example to the whole of Bulgaria. The fact that I never had any bias against Turks, or Gypsies, or Jews, Armenians and Albanians has always been my great advantage. I came to Sofia in 1992, but I often go back to my native land where I have a small summerhouse. There I can write and read in peace.

- What metaphor underlies the plot of The Glass River?

- This is the metaphor of our life, power of perception, memories and passion. In the Apocrypha of Enoch, written synchronously with the Biblical texts, there are chapters telling about sinful people who sit by a river shedding tears for their original sin. Falling into the river their tears turn into glass. The river is barren - no fish, no water, just glass. So, this is the central metaphor. As this was my first novel, I treated it condescendingly. I cannot say I have high self-confidence and don't see myself as a great writer. I write because I love it and manage to make my stories interesting. That's why people read them. The message of my book is a little grotesque. Bulgarians shouldn't take himself too seriously and boast that we have done something all that important for the world. If this idea becomes obsessive our future contribution to world's culture will for sure shrink.

Iskra Krapacheva

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