January 11, 2008

Tobacco Wedding in Blackbird

Happy New Year to everyone! I just received a very nice email from Blackbird, letting me know that they've liked my story "Tobacco Wedding" enough to publish it in their Spring 2008 issue.

This is good news for so many reasons, not all of which obvious. To begin with, I really like this story, but my agent made a very convincing point that the story does not fit well with the rest of the collection and so we took it out. I do think this was the right decision. So I had accepted the fact that "Tobacco Wedding" will sit in a drawer forever.

In November I received an email from Blackbird that they had received the aforementioned story (look at all the fancy words I know) and will read it in the months to follow. Honestly, I was surprised -- I checked my sent emails (thank God for gmail) and found the original submission -- early in 2007. So again I figured nothing will come out of this... luckily I was wrong.

This story is very special to me, because it is, stylistically and thematically, a tribute to one of Bulgaria's greatest writers - Nikolay Haytov. Haytov's most famous collection of stories "Wild Tales," is in my opinion the greatest literary achievement in Bulgarian fiction (poetry aside, Bulgarian poets are gods). All stories in "Wild Tales" are about the people of the Rhodopa Mountain and I really wanted to have something about these people in my collection as well. "Tobacco Wedding" plays with a very common phenomenon of the olden days -- bride stealing, but puts a slight spin as now it is the groom that is being stolen. Short sentences, strong dialects, a lot of action, passionate characters, this is Haytov at his best, impossible to translate -- I wanted with my story to come close, but in English. I am now delighted that people will read my attempt, and hopefully like it.

I'm also happy that a friend of mine, Ash Bowen, a poet in our MFA program, is publishing his own work in the same issue.

Best of luck to all of you; this post has become too long...


eren said...


We are a couple of friends reading short stories and discussing them in Turkish. One of us suggested reading the short stories of Nikolay Haytov and then we started to gather information about him as much as we could. But apart from the book we had in hand (which is the only Haytov translation in Turkish) we could only find the Wikipedia article (and a few Bulgarian sources that we couldn't make use of :) ). Your blog was the only other source I could reach and I've been planning to contact you since I came across your post about him.

I'm writing to ask for some help about his works. Any help would be appreciated.

The book we have is named "Dünya Poturunu Çıkarıyor" in Turkish, I would translate it as "The World is Taking Their Pants off". I suspect this collection of stories are a part of the famous Wild Tales. The stories in it are (I'm translating their names from Turkish to English): "The World is Taking Their Pants off", "Ibram Ali", "The Bear Man", "The Seed of Dervish", "Path Maker", "The Barrel", "Conscience", "Male Times", "Black Chicken", "Fear", "The Spirit of the Forest", "Whistle of the Train", "The Wedding" and "Curiosity". I would be glad if you could comment on the possible sources of these short stories.

And if you could advise any resources about his short stories that could really be of a lot of help for our workshop.

If you are interested in our forum you could visit http://uzunhikaye.org (all in Turkish).

Thanks in advance.

Miroslav Penkov said...

Dear Eren,

I'm so happy that you're reading Haytov and saddened that this little entry in my poorly updated blog is, more or less, all you can find about him online. I'll do my best to help you find more information in English, maybe even in Turkish though I don't read or write it.
You are correct - all these stories you listed are from Haytov's famous "Wild Tales" collection.
I'm on the road right now and unfortunately cannot write more (nor will I have an Internet connection for the next few weeks). I promise when I return to my computer to contact you again. My email is mpenkov [AT] gmail [DOT] com. Please, send me a message there so I can see yours and contact you personally.
Best wishes,