For many of you teachers in London, the long April break is well underway - congratulations! I'm sure many of you are out there exploring exciting travel destinations - Portugal, Paris, Amsterdam, Istanbul, the list is endless...
For any of you still looking for an exciting place to travel, please consider BULGARIA. Bulgaria is where I used to teach (back in the day....1994-96) and it is a fantastic country. Beautiful scenery, great wine, friendly people, fantastic architecture and a lesser known European travel destination. You won't be disappointed.
Even though I have been back from Bulgaria for almost 15 years, I still have a very special place in my heart for the country. The same way, I guess, that I still have a fondness for all things British, that stems from the time I spent living near London. (Fortunately I am able to work in a place that allows me to keep my connection to London and Britain alive and kicking!)
Anyway, if you aren't able to travel to Bulgaria during this break, consider at least reading a fantastic new collection of short stories about this country, a book called Cold Snap: Bulgaria Stories.
Cold Snap is the debut collection of short stories from Cynthia Morrison Phoel, a writer and fellow Peace Corps volunteer who served in Bulgaria at the same time I did. It doesn't matter if you have a previous connection to Bulgaria or not. The characters are so well developed, the location of the village of "Old Mountain" so well described, and the plot lines so well conceived, these stories are sure to amaze and amuse anyone who is interested in good literature.
You can read an excerpt from the book at: http://www.cynthiaphoel.com/excerpt.html.
But I think the praise for Cold Snap speaks for itself:
“I am greatly impressed with Cold Snap, a look at Bulgarian life—family life, school life, frustration, even passion and desire. Cynthia Phoel writes from inside this culture, convincingly and with real insight.”
—Paul Theroux, author of The Great Railway Bazaar
“Cold Snap marks the premiere of a bold and talented writer. Phoel writes with great authority and examines the lives of her characters fearlessly, without sentimentality or sensationalism. The writing is pitch perfect; the stories are powerful and heartbreaking. There won’t be many books published this year of the same quality.”
—Robert Boswell, author of The Heyday
of the Insensitive Bastards
of the Insensitive Bastards
"Phoel's first collection of stories and a novella incisively dramatizes the interlocked lives of the beleaguered denizens of a Bulgarian town. Phoel spent time in Bulgaria as a Peace Corps volunteer, but one gets no sense of an outsider looking in. Instead, she fully inhabits the minds of her jittery characters as they grapple with various forms of family pressure, poverty, and the maddening cold. Young Dobrin's brow is becoming permanently furrowed as he worries about his overworked mother and cavalier father, as a giant satellite dish funnels a nonstop stream of soccer and porn into their humble and frigid apartment. Galia has been utterly passive, but now that she's pregnant, mutinous thoughts are brewing. Mathematician Plamen is plagued by self-loathing. In charge of central heating, Nasko is besieged. With the fierce cold serving as a metaphor for the deep social freeze of this long tyrannized land, Phoel is as confident as the great Russian writer Gogol in her acid humor and insightful portrayals of people who “could endure anything,” making for an unusually commanding and affecting debut."
--Donna Seaman, Booklist
Anyway, I just wanted to share my love for this country and encourage those of you close enough to go ahead and have a visit.
Leave a comment below and let us know where you are traveling this April break and, what you are reading!
Classroom Canada website
Guide to Teaching in London: A Survival Guide for Canadians ebook
Sign up for our newsletters
Canadians & Americans in the UK blog