After a slight detour through Boston (possibly due to yesterday’s bizarre New Jersey wildfire), Black Balloon Publishing’s author Virginia Zaharieva has arrived in New York City from her native Bulgaria to kick off her Nine Rabbits book tour. Beginning today, Virginia will be travelling across the U.S., visiting bookstores, universities and even a bar to discuss the themes of her new novel: fiction and food, books and Bulgaria, literature and life.
Based largely on Virginia’s own life, Nine Rabbits tells the story of Manda growing up in rural Bulgaria in the 1960s, during the height of Communism. The tough though lively six-year-old survives her grandmother’s beating and the everyday challenges of poverty by diving into the world around her, taking sheer delight in lush vegetable gardens, pounding seatides, dark attics and monasteries. Manda seems indestructible, but as a middle-aged artist and frustrated writer in newly democratic Bulgaria, she struggles desperately to feed her damaged soul.
Nine Rabbits was first published in 2008 in Bulgaria, where it quickly became a bestseller and, as Virginia explains in this interview, inspired a generation of young, urban women who had never cooked to venture into the kitchen looking for more than a snack. Six years on, the novel remains one of the most celebrated Bulgarian books to appear over the last two decades.