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Everything Happens as It Doesby Albena Stambolova
Winner of the 2013 (or 2012, depending on your source) Contemporary Bulgarian Writers Contest, Everything Happens as It Does is Albena Stambolova's debut novel (originally published in 2002). Stambolova, also a practicing psychotherapist, has since gone on to write two additional novels (preceded by a collection of short stories from 1985 and "A Psychoanalytical Study on Marguerite Duras"). Everything Happens as It Does begins with a brief prologue indicative of the style, prose, and ambience that follows throughout:
This story considers itself the story of everyone. I don't know if this is true. You will be the one to decide.
Stambolova's slim novel features seven main characters (and some ancillary ones) whose lives inevitably intersect in ways acutely representative of those in the real world. These relationships (familial, friendly, or romantic) are marked, like their nonfictional counterparts, by hardship, drama, miscommunication, and unresolved feelings. Given Stambolova's extra-literary pursuits, it's unsurprising that so much of the narrative insight into the characters' lives are shaded by psychological influences and motivations. Her novel, however, is not a family drama or love story gone awry, but, instead, an accurate portrayal of our often messy lives in miniature. Heartbreaks, betrayals, indifferences, and unspoken hopes and fears abound.
Stambolova eschews florid descriptions and sentimentality. Her direct, restrained prose, entirely free of dialogue, is never impersonal or tedious — instead veering often into passages of unadulterated beauty, perception, and sagacity. Everything Happens as It Does is a fictional rendering of realism and verity. Easy it will be for the reader to recognize the authenticity in Stambolova's characters and the frequently cumbrous exchanges and interactions that color so many of our interpersonal relationships.
Synopses & Reviews
Albena Stambolova's idiosyncratic debut novel, Everything Happens as It Does, builds from the idea that, as the title suggests, everything happens exactly the way it must. In this case, the seven characters of the novel — from Boris, a young boy who is only at peace when he's around bees, to Philip and Maria and their twins — each play a specific role in the lives of the others, binding them all together into a strange, yet logical, knot. As characters are picked up, explored, and then swept aside, the novel's beguiling structure becomes apparent, forcing the reader to pay attention to the patterns created by this accumulation of events and relationships. This is not a novel of reaching moral high ground; this is not a book about resolving relationships; this is a story whose mysteries are mysteries for a reason.
Written with a precise, succinct tone that calls to mind Camus's The Stranger, Everything Happens as It Does is a captivating and detail-driven novel that explores how depth will never be as immediately accessible as superficiality, and how everything will run its course in the precise manner it was always meant to.
"In this cryptic, compressed and layered novella, an undefined cast of characters is bound in a net of coincidence. We first meet a young boy named Boris, a precocious loner with a peculiar relationship to bees. The story follows him through his haunting baptism, and later to his odd union with Maria, the divorcee of Philip and mother of twins — the inquisitive Valentin and eccentric Margarita. As a student Valentin falls for Fanny, the daughter of his mother's divorce lawyer, Mr. V. Fanny is independent and cynical about matters of love, yet Valentin and his sister attract her. Margarita avoids thought and proceeds without analyzing her circumstances, carrying a black bag and laptop around town. At times fairytale-like, and perhaps an allegory of sorts, this book is about a group over individuals and accidental responsibilities. What it lacks in plot and action it makes up for in philosophical depth. Told in short, episodic anti-scenes, by a third-person narrator who flits on the fringes of consciousness, the result may leave some readers craving a more concrete storyline, whereas others will embrace the text with multiple interpretations and rich discussion. (Nov.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Stambolova's novel is based on the notion that human existence cannot but move toward an inexorable and irrational order: Everything happens the way it has to happen, because this is the way it happens. The characters in Everything Happens as It Does are created on this exact principle." Milena Kirova
About the Author
Albena Stambolova is the author of three novels: Everything Happens as It Does, Hop-Hop the Stars, and An Adventure, to Pass the Time. She has also published a collection of short stories, Three Dots, and a psychoanalytical study on Marguerite Duras, Sickness in Death. She currently lives in Bulgaria, where she works as a psychological and organizational consultant, and is working on a book about fairy tales.
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