Miroslav from the Bloc
Published June 7, 2011
Twenty-eight-year-old Miroslav Penkov is a Bulgarian immigrant with a tragicomic overflow of Shteyngartian perceptions of life in a new heartland. His short-story collection East of the West (FSG, 6/21) mythologizes his own immigration narrative—watching the Iron Curtain fall at age 8, leaving Sofia a decade later to attend college in Arkansas, and accepting a professorship at the University of North Texas before the age of 30—all seen through the lens of outsize characters. These protagonists range from a young capitalist who tries to buy his communist grandfather Lenin’s corpse on eBay to a divorced father who recounts epics of Ottoman warriors while outrunning a tornado. They’re heart-crushingly funny, stereotype-splattering creations.