You have successfully added "..." to your cart
The Unknown Human Images
Print Edition
ISBN
978-619-02-0293-6
Buy
Price
13.35 lv.
(15.00 lv.)
-11%
Digital Edition
ISBN
978-619-02-0294-3
Buy
Price
9.00 lv.
(15.00 lv.)
-6lv.
Information
Rating (14)
4.5714285714286 14
Language
Bulgarian
Format
Paperback
Size
13/20
Weight
159 gr.
Pages
192
Published
07 September 2018

The Unknown Human Images

The stories in this collection seem to lead through the reality of everyday life, while playing a sly game with the readers expectations. A small boy throws a ball to the sun; a man looks for his long-forgotten face; an old gentleman walks among his immemorial memories; a business woman looks at the opposite sidewalk and surprisingly sees herself...

Under the sounds of waltz, tango and silence, somewhere between ants and lions, trains and landing planes, the magic pierces the world in order to highlight the other possible narrative.

About the Author
Sonya  Todorova

Sonya Todorova (born 1979) studied Geodesy at the University of Architecture, Civil Engineering and Geodesy in Sofia and earned a doctoral degree in Advanced Geodesy at the Vienna University of Technology. Later on, in 2020, she graduated in Theatre-, Film-, and Media Studies at the Vienna University. Currently, Sonya works as a freelance translator, writer and contributing author for different Bulgarian media.

Her first book, "A Concise and Practical Guide to Survival for Families with Small Children and Others in Sofia" (Colibri, 2015), is a humorous, yet sharp social study of present-day life in her hometown and was nominated for the Outstanding Cultural Achievement Award of Sofia Municipality.

Sonya's debut novel, "Adi Landau's Pearls", was published in 2016. It was nominated for the 2016 "Helikon" Book Award for New Bulgarian Prose and shortlisted for the 2016 "Peroto" Award for Contribution to the Bulgarian Literary Context.

The stories in her latest book, "The Unknown Human Images" (2018), seem to lead through the reality of everyday life, while playing a sly game with the readers expectations. The short story collection was nominated for the 2018 "Helikon" Book Award for New Bulgarian Prose and for the First National Award for Literature "Yordan Radichkov" 2020.

Excerpt

Night on the Тracks

Like an outcast, a low-key demon,
traveling through people’s dreams.

It was past nine when he arrived at the train station. By this point in the weekday, the workers had already withdrawn, swallowed up by the suffocating caverns of their homes. The stationmaster had locked himself in his room, smoking, waiting for the night to engulf the stage completely, so he could wonder what to fill it with: it was not yet fully night, it was not yet cool enough. Even the vagrants were missing, for it had to darken completely before they could crawl out of the shadows. The platform was empty but lit. The curtains rose on yet another act to a theatre without an audience. The actor stood alone on stage, unsure whether to begin. He looked around. He needed a train, any train, going anywhere.
“The express train to Locarno will arrive at platform three,” said a voice from above, metallic, female, and somewhat pleading, as if begging to be heard. Locarno it is, then. Perfect, it is all the same. Someone was walking down the platform. With a neat dark suit and a small suitcase on wheels, laptop bag over one shoulder. They got on the train simultaneously from either side of the couchette car. The other man promptly entered one of the compartments without a word. Must have had a reservation. By contrast, the boarding of a passenger without a ticket prompted a hassle. “If you don’t have a reservation or a ticket you will need to pay double the price of a first-class ticket, and I’ll need to give you a fine,” recited the conductor as he awkwardly pulled out a blanket and bedding from the service compartment. His jacket was buttoned wrong, he looked unsure of himself, like a coat checker pushed on stage last minute to replace a missing actor. He ended up taking the money and issuing the ticket. After that he gave the passenger bedding and led him down the corridor. He insisted that the passenger sleep in the only occupied compartment, out of safety precautions. What safety and for whom was unclear.
The other man had already made his berth, the upper one on the right. He was sitting underneath, laptop on his knees. He had switched off the main lights of the compartment and a little reading lamp flickered behind him. Lit blue from the screen, his face seemed tired and tense after a long day. He lifted his head for a second, only to say “Good evening” with the voice of someone who was and expected to forever be a victim of circumstance. “Where will you sleep – upper, middle or lower?” asked the conductor sluggishly, looking at the berths on the left. It did not seem like he knew how to actually set up the two upper berths. “Thank you, I’ll take the lower one since it’s already unfolded. Don’t want to bother the gentleman unnecessarily.” The other man did not react and the conductor, relieved, spat out his next line: “Wake up call is at six thirty, tea or coffee?” and he wrote their preferences on the back of a crumpled receipt.
“L. – coffee: U. – tea,” that was how he wrote it down, no names, just Lower and Upper. 
And they were left alone, Lower and Upper, in the ridiculous intimacy of the tiny compartment, two strangers, their knees touching, as the train rattled indifferently, threatening to bring them into an awkward embrace with every change of speed or direction. The train had left the station long ago and was now gaining speed, drifting through the night, more and more decisive, more and more irreversible.
After a while Upper closed his laptop and coughed. He got up, put the cables away, the laptop in its bag, carefully placed the suitcase on the seat, and pulled from it a toothbrush and a hanger. Lower had withdrawn into the corner and was now sitting by the window, pretending to look outside. It was dark, except for the occasional streetlights and sleeping towns shooting past, here and there a deserted brightly lit train station. Despite the extreme proximity of the other human being Lower felt distinctly alone as he stared at the rushing darkness. Like an outcast, a low-key demon, traveling through people’s dreams. He felt good like that, quiet and calm, far from everyone, outside of everything. Upper removed his blazer, hung it, and left, toothbrush and toothpaste in hand. When he came back in a bit with brushed teeth and a tired face, Lower politely excused himself and exited. He went to the end of the corridor, waited there around five minutes, which he attempted to count in his head, and then returned to the compartment. The trousers and shirt had joined the blazer on the hanger, and Upper was up, elevated, stretched out on his celestial bed like a pharaoh, too strict and methodical to allow himself such lowly activities as sleeping or dying. Lower sat back down in his spot next to the window, settled his head on the pillow, and pulled up the blanket. He could not be bothered with much else. Plus, he did not know when he would get off. He gazed into the darkness again. The compartment was now lit only by a little emergency light, hidden behind the edge of the table. 
“Good night,” said Upper. He said it with uncertainty, somehow mechanically, as if debating whether to add something to lighten the absurd intimacy of the moment. He coughed. “Here he goes,” thought Lower and sighed. Upper will now inhale, he will relax his hands beside his body, and staring at the ceiling just an inch above his face, he will start speaking. Fragile and hesitant at first, his story will gradually gain momentum, feeding off of itself, it will become more and more powerful until the words crackle out immutably like a rifle shooting everything in sight. He will talk about his endless trips, which increasingly lead nowhere. About the mortgage and the dept, the car and the inheritance he never received, the unfulfilled dreams, and the bitter disappointments, and finally – about the wife, whom he has not loved for years and the children, which are strangers to him. Staring at the ceiling, hands relaxed beside his body, doomed and solemn, as if on an operating table, raised, as if on a theatre podium, lit from underneath by the merciful light of the emergency lamp, Upper, slowly and methodically, will drive the scalpel through himself and cut the badly healed skin and the infected wounds, he will go through every scar, every ulcer, and he will cut ruthlessly and deeply, till he draws blood. Gradually, he will sink into the pain, carefully tracing the thick fluid gushing from the wounds, spilling off the edge of the bed, mucous and dark green in the light of the passing streetlights. Lower will put up his feet to keep them from getting soiled and remain quiet, gazing into the darkness. When Upper is finally silent and asleep, feeling light after the illusory healing, Lower will exhale once more and take up his part of the script. Swiftly and efficiently, without a drop of artistry. He will take off his clothes and lay them on the bed, without folding them. Afterwards, he will slide open the window of the compartment and lock it in place. Upper’s suit, shirt, and hanger will fly out the window, followed by the suitcase, bag, laptop and cables, and Upper will suddenly be nothing but upper, no more chains, no more weight. Finally, Lower will leap into the night – naked, alone and free, no fear or identity, having forever erased any predetermined script.
“Good night,” said Upper. He seemed uncertain. “See you in the morning in Locarno.” Lower’s response was delayed as if he was contemplating the moment.
“I doubt that,” said Lower finally. “I’m getting off soon, before the border.” And he once again looked out into the darkness.

Night on the Тracks

Like an outcast, a low-key demon,
traveling through people’s dreams.

It was past nine when he arrived at the train station. By this point in the weekday, the workers had already withdrawn, swallowed up by the suffocating caverns of their homes. The stationmaster had locked himself in his room, smoking, waiting for the night to engulf the stage completely, so he could wonder what to fill it with: it was not yet fully night, it was not yet cool enough. Even the vagrants were missing, for it had to darken completely before they could crawl out of the shadows. The platform was empty but lit. The curtains rose on yet another act to a theatre without an audience. The actor stood alone on stage, unsure whether to begin. He looked around. He needed a train, any train, going anywhere.
“The express train to Locarno will arrive at platform three,” said a voice from above, metallic, female, and somewhat pleading, as if begging to be heard. Locarno it is, then. Perfect, it is all the same. Someone was walking down the platform. With a neat dark suit and a small suitcase on wheels, laptop bag over one shoulder. They got on the train simultaneously from either side of the couchette car. The other man promptly entered one of the compartments without a word. Must have had a reservation. By contrast, the boarding of a passenger without a ticket prompted a hassle. “If you don’t have a reservation or a ticket you will need to pay double the price of a first-class ticket, and I’ll need to give you a fine,” recited the conductor as he awkwardly pulled out a blanket and bedding from the service compartment. His jacket was buttoned wrong, he looked unsure of himself, like a coat checker pushed on stage last minute to replace a missing actor. He ended up taking the money and issuing the ticket. After that he gave the passenger bedding and led him down the corridor. He insisted that the passenger sleep in the only occupied compartment, out of safety precautions. What safety and for whom was unclear.
The other man had already made his berth, the upper one on the right. He was sitting underneath, laptop on his knees. He had switched off the main lights of the compartment and a little reading lamp flickered behind him. Lit blue from the screen, his face seemed tired and tense after a long day. He lifted his head for a second, only to say “Good evening” with the voice of someone who was and expected to forever be a victim of circumstance. “Where will you sleep – upper, middle or lower?” asked the conductor sluggishly, looking at the berths on the left. It did not seem like he knew how to actually set up the two upper berths. “Thank you, I’ll take the lower one since it’s already unfolded. Don’t want to bother the gentleman unnecessarily.” The other man did not react and the conductor, relieved, spat out his next line: “Wake up call is at six thirty, tea or coffee?” and he wrote their preferences on the back of a crumpled receipt.
“L. – coffee: U. – tea,” that was how he wrote it down, no names, just Lower and Upper. 
And they were left alone, Lower and Upper, in the ridiculous intimacy of the tiny compartment, two strangers, their knees touching, as the train rattled indifferently, threatening to bring them into an awkward embrace with every change of speed or direction. The train had left the station long ago and was now gaining speed, drifting through the night, more and more decisive, more and more irreversible.
After a while Upper closed his laptop and coughed. He got up, put the cables away, the laptop in its bag, carefully placed the suitcase on the seat, and pulled from it a toothbrush and a hanger. Lower had withdrawn into the corner and was now sitting by the window, pretending to look outside. It was dark, except for the occasional streetlights and sleeping towns shooting past, here and there a deserted brightly lit train station. Despite the extreme proximity of the other human being Lower felt distinctly alone as he stared at the rushing darkness. Like an outcast, a low-key demon, traveling through people’s dreams. He felt good like that, quiet and calm, far from everyone, outside of everything. Upper removed his blazer, hung it, and left, toothbrush and toothpaste in hand. When he came back in a bit with brushed teeth and a tired face, Lower politely excused himself and exited. He went to the end of the corridor, waited there around five minutes, which he attempted to count in his head, and then returned to the compartment. The trousers and shirt had joined the blazer on the hanger, and Upper was up, elevated, stretched out on his celestial bed like a pharaoh, too strict and methodical to allow himself such lowly activities as sleeping or dying. Lower sat back down in his spot next to the window, settled his head on the pillow, and pulled up the blanket. He could not be bothered with much else. Plus, he did not know when he would get off. He gazed into the darkness again. The compartment was now lit only by a little emergency light, hidden behind the edge of the table. 
“Good night,” said Upper. He said it with uncertainty, somehow mechanically, as if debating whether to add something to lighten the absurd intimacy of the moment. He coughed. “Here he goes,” thought Lower and sighed. Upper will now inhale, he will relax his hands beside his body, and staring at the ceiling just an inch above his face, he will start speaking. Fragile and hesitant at first, his story will gradually gain momentum, feeding off of itself, it will become more and more powerful until the words crackle out immutably like a rifle shooting everything in sight. He will talk about his endless trips, which increasingly lead nowhere. About the mortgage and the dept, the car and the inheritance he never received, the unfulfilled dreams, and the bitter disappointments, and finally – about the wife, whom he has not loved for years and the children, which are strangers to him. Staring at the ceiling, hands relaxed beside his body, doomed and solemn, as if on an operating table, raised, as if on a theatre podium, lit from underneath by the merciful light of the emergency lamp, Upper, slowly and methodically, will drive the scalpel through himself and cut the badly healed skin and the infected wounds, he will go through every scar, every ulcer, and he will cut ruthlessly and deeply, till he draws blood. Gradually, he will sink into the pain, carefully tracing the thick fluid gushing from the wounds, spilling off the edge of the bed, mucous and dark green in the light of the passing streetlights. Lower will put up his feet to keep them from getting soiled and remain quiet, gazing into the darkness. When Upper is finally silent and asleep, feeling light after the illusory healing, Lower will exhale once more and take up his part of the script. Swiftly and efficiently, without a drop of artistry. He will take off his clothes and lay them on the bed, without folding them. Afterwards, he will slide open the window of the compartment and lock it in place. Upper’s suit, shirt, and hanger will fly out the window, followed by the suitcase, bag, laptop and cables, and Upper will suddenly be nothing but upper, no more chains, no more weight. Finally, Lower will leap into the night – naked, alone and free, no fear or identity, having forever erased any predetermined script.
“Good night,” said Upper. He seemed uncertain. “See you in the morning in Locarno.” Lower’s response was delayed as if he was contemplating the moment.
“I doubt that,” said Lower finally. “I’m getting off soon, before the border.” And he once again looked out into the darkness.

SHARE:
Print Edition
Print Edition
ISBN
978-619-02-0293-6
Buy
Price
13.35 lv.
(15.00 lv.)

* 11% online discount
Shipping - Speedy / Bulgaria, Bulgarian Posts / abroad
Free shipping in Bulgaria for orders above 70 lv.
-11%
Discount
Shipping
Digital Edition
Digital Edition
ISBN
978-619-02-0294-3
Buy
Price
9.00 lv.
(15.00 lv.)

* 6 lv. discount from the print edition
Quick, convenient and easy reading
See how to read e-books
-6lv.
E-Books Information
Buy for Kindle
Colibri Publishers
1990-2021 © All rights reserved