by Michael Hinken (USA); photography by Anthony Georgieff
This issue presents texts by the 2011 Sozopol Fiction Seminars fellows Michael Hinken and Rayko Baychev
The Elizabeth Kostova Foundation and Vagabond,
Bulgaria's English Monthly, cooperate in order to enrich
the English language with translations of contemporary
Bulgarian writers. Every year we give
you the chance to read the work
of a dozen young and sometimes
not-so-young Bulgarian writers that
the EKF considers original, refreshing
and valuable. Some of them have
been translated in English for the first
time. The EKF has decided to make
the selection of authors' work and
to ensure they get first-class English
translation, and we at Vagabond
are only too happy to get them
published in a quality magazine.
Enjoy our fiction pages.
Michael Hinken received an MFA in prose from the University of Michigan in 2004. His short stories have appeared in West Branch, Third Coast, River City and The Tampa Review, and his non-fiction has appeared in the Michigan Quarterly Review, Elysian Fields Quarterly and Provincetown Arts. In 2011, his story Bukharin's Fox was recognized with an honorable mention in the Pushcart Prize XXXV Best of the Small Presses. He is also a winner of the Associated Writing Program's Intro Journals Project Award, the River City Writing Award in Fiction and the Chamberlin Award in Fiction administered by the Hopwood Awards Program at the University of Michigan. From 2007-2008, he was the Grace Paley Fiction Fellow at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts. He has worked as a journalist in Central Illinois and also served in the United States Peace Corps, teaching English as a Foreign Language in the Russian Far East. Currently he teaches composition and creative writing at the University of Michigan. He has recently been working on a short story collection and a novel.
The great leader's daughter drowses by the aviary. It is a Sunday afternoon in early autumn and visitors wander through the halls dressed in green and gold. Cheers erupt at intervals from the activity room, where the Packers game plays on the big screen television. The birds in the aviary flutter from branch to branch – canaries, parakeets, finches, lovebirds.
To her father, she was his little sparrow. Malinky vorobrey. She hears his voice. Malinky vorobrey. He lifts her. Cold tunic buttons press her cheek. There is about him an aroma of pipesmoke, the animal scent of leather. She is lighter than air and afraid, so she begs him to stop. He does. What does she know of him? What of his cruelty? What of his guilt? Nothing, she knows nothing, only what every daughter knows of her father, which is to say only what he allows. Bending his face to hers, she is covered with smoky kisses, wet and loud. What if this were her only memory? How happy would she be?
Muffled gunshots report from the north woods, hunters no doubt – but what is in season? – and she is again aware of the aviary and the brightly flapping things behind the glass and of something, no, someone else. A small girl. She asks: "Do those birds miss the sky?" Her eyes are somber gray and flecked with green.
If the great leader's daughter could hold her, gather her in, she would never let her go. "Whatever they see above them is the sky," she answers.
The girl faces the aviary again, leans sideways in a slow arc so that her long curls nearly brush the floor. "Look," she says. When she points, bracelets slide along her arm. "Somebody painted clouds for them."
"Ah," the great leader's daughter says. "That is a kindness."
70 years ago, on 10 March 1943, Bulgaria's pro-Nazi government decided to defy Berlin and halt the deportation of Bulgaria's 50.000 Jews. This was down to the actions of one man - Dimitar Peshev. Just two years later he faced Communist justice and found himself on trial for his life. His niece Kaluda Kiradjieva remembers