Literary Saloon
Site of Review.

Trying to meet all your book preview and review needs.

the Best
the Rest
Review Index




to e-mail us:

support the site

In Association with Amazon.com

In association with Amazon.com - UK

In association with Amazon.ca - Canada



In association with Amazon.it - Italia

the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

A Short Tale of Shame

Angel Igov

general information | review summaries | our review | links | about the author

To purchase A Short Tale of Shame

Title: A Short Tale of Shame
Author: Angel Igov
Genre: Novel
Written: 2011 (Eng. 2013)
Length: 145 pages
Original in: Bulgarian
Availability: A Short Tale of Shame - US
A Short Tale of Shame - UK
A Short Tale of Shame - Canada
A Short Tale of Shame - India
  • Bulgarian title: Кратка повест за срама
  • Translated by Angela Rodel

- Return to top of the page -

Our Assessment:

B : spins its wheels a bit too much, rather than getting anywhere

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
The Independent . 15/11/2013 Max Lui
Култура . 27/1/2012 Димитър Кенаров
Publishers Weekly . 24/6/2013 .

  From the Reviews:
  • "(T)he novel reads like an overwritten short story. Fans of experimental fiction will be disappointed by what is, beneath its dense surface, pretty conservative writing." - Max Lui, The Independent

  • "Може би единствената сериозна слабост на романа е равният сюжет, прекалено гладкото пътуване, което не предлага сериозни психологически кризи и обрати. Любителите на силни усещания и емоции едва ли ще бъдат удовлетворени. Но това е също така и силата на Кратка повест за срама: отказът от драматизъм и литературни фойерверки, вярата, че едно пътуване може да бъде вълнуващо и без катастрофа." - Димитър Кенаров, Култура

  • "Like the best of Continental literature, Igov's short and haunting novel manages to be about everything and nothing at once. (...) With a radiant translation by Rodel, who renders Igov's prose with breathless lyricism, the novel (...) is both a sweeping and small meditation on four intertwined lives (...) -- and the manifest beauty of being alive." - Publishers Weekly

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

- Return to top of the page -

The complete review's Review:

       A Short Tale of Shame is a Balkan road trip story of sorts: Boril Krustev -- one-time pop musician, now successful promoter --, driving without a clear destination, picks up a group of three hitchhikers who are headed for the Greek island of Thasos. The three are students in their early twenties who have taken a year off to think about the future. As it turns out, they know Boril -- or rather his daughter, Elena -- and it is Elena, not physically present but soon nevertheless very much of a presence, that becomes the fifth person "traveling with them as well".
       Boril is feeling kind of low, and with Elena back in America now has no real family left; the trio he picks up becomes a substitute family of sorts at least for these few days. Elena's shadow looms large over all of them, too: it turns out she never was a very nice girl (a creepy scene right at the end describes her watching and smiling a scene as a small child, which neatly sums up her miserable character). Indeed, she left her mark on each of the four, and these aren't exactly happy memories.
       The two girls, Maya and Sirma, and the boy Spartacus that Boril picks up are an uneasy trio, having flirted with relationships but somehow now comfortable in a sort of triangular friendship. Boril, meanwhile, is wrestling (lightly) with his own demons and a reasonably well-deserved mid-life crisis (though on the whole he can't complain about what he's achieved in life -- even Spartacus remembers some of his old tunes).
       There's some tension and discomfort in traveling with a not-quite-stranger, but of the low-level sort. The fairly easy-going Boril adjusts along the way -- not trying to be too adult and paternal by paying for their food, for example -- but also sticks with them. The kids are vaguely pleased to have their transportation covered, but also a bit leery of Boril tagging along the whole way.
       The real source of tension, however, remains Elena. Their memories of her and some of her stunts are dredged up, one by one, as the absent figure comes very much to the fore. Still, it all feels rather low-key, the tension only ratcheted up so high.
       Among the oddities of the book, which tries to do some interesting things with style (but feels a bit too preliminarily experimental, as nothing really seems fully seen through (not helped by a translation that gamely tries to keep up, but occasionally stumbles)) are the references to many of the locales and people: this isn't a novel of Bulgarians and then Greeks, but rather Slavs and Dacians, Thrace and Phrygia and Macedonia -- all of which is likely to be very puzzling to American readers (most of whom, after all, probably have difficulty distinguishing Slovenes from Slovaks). This is actually an interesting aspect of the book -- their destination, Thasos, has a complicated legacy (and was, briefly, Bulgarian) -- but, as with so many nationalist and ethnic issues in the Balkans, is also a huge can of worms to open (especially with so little explanation for foreign readers).
       Low-key can be fine for a road-trip-story, but A Short Tale of Shame never really gets comfortably into gear. The relationship issues and the critical events, largely presented as recollections and memories, almost never feel immediate enough to really matter, and Elena remains too distant and shadowy a figure, so the book falls a bit flat.

- M.A.Orthofer, 9 May 2013

- Return to top of the page -


A Short Tale of Shame: Reviews: Angel Igov: Other books of interest under review:

- Return to top of the page -

About the Author:

       Bulgarian author Angel Igov (Ангел Игов) was born in 1981.

- Return to top of the page -

© 2013-2022 the complete review

Main | the New | the Best | the Rest | Review Index | Links