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The Author of the Bestseller The Historian at AUBG

December 08, 2008

The famous American writer Elizabeth Kostova presented her novel The Historian, placed at number one on the New York Times Bestseller list for fiction on December 1. It was the first first novel to be ranked at this honorable position. Elizabeth Kostova also shared with the public a chapter of her second novel “The Swan Thieves”, which will be published in the US and Bulgaria in Fall 2009.

Elizabeth Kostova was born in Connecticut in 1964 and holds a B.A. in British Studies from Yale University and a Master of Fine Arts in the Writing of Fiction from the University of Michigan. She writes fiction, essays and poetry, and also teaches Writing Fiction courses. Along with Svetlozar Zhelev of Ciela, Kostova is a founder of the Elizabeth Kostova Foundation for Creative Writing in Bulgaria, whose goal is to promote Bulgarian literature and give it a more proactive position in the global scope of writing.

Born in a family of librarians, Kostova has been raised with books. She said that the library was the most „condensed, compact form of history”. Explaining why she has chosen to write historian fiction, Kostova revealed that for her the way “history surrounds us, imposes us” was fascinating. Her novel The Historian takes place during the post-Cold War period when the narrator’s father is travelling across Europe in pursue of Dracula. The development of action carries the sense of another well-known bestseller, published at the same period - The Da Vinci Code. Both novels are based on historical research generating suspense.

Commenting on the relationship between the two novels, Kostova observed that The Da Vinci Code was “a social phenomenon, which paved the way” for novels like her own. It was an indication that modern people were willing to understand who they are and find the way they interact with history.

And being modern people themselves, the students from AUBG were keen to find the answers of their own inquiries. To the question of a student “How young writers can bring their work to an end and achieve success with it?”, Elizabeth Kostova responded that she herself had written many short stories, before being able to finish a whole novel. She noticed that there was a long way from the 8-year-long writing of the manuscript, through finding an editor and finally publishing The Historian. Further sharing emotions on their common passion – literature, Kostova confessed in front of her public that she actually finds little time for reading and added: “The shoemaker’s son always goes barefoot.” However, she encouraged students to read and even proposed her list of recommended books for the winter vacation. We’d better hope to obtain a copy of it too – it’s a rare opportunity to get an advice for books from a writer like Elizabeth Kostova.

By Simona Atanasova ‘12

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