Toma Markov is weird. Everyone who has read him will agree to this point. Mostly famous for his ironical and satirical articles in popular Bulgarian newspapers, the controversial author now surprises with a brand new novel. Not only that, but he brands it “a love novel”. The moment I heard about it I knew what I should do – I should buy it for my ex-boyfriend because he is a huge fan. After he read it, he didn’t share a single opinion about it with me. He just said: “I want to hear what you think first and I want to read it in your blog”. I hope I don’t disappoint him.
Markov is Makaronov, the protagonist of the novel. Or Makaronov is Markov, the author who just had issued his first novel and is bearing the fruits of the newly born fame. Bulgaria in the 1998: people have no money, the exchange rate is two bulgarian levs, the mafia is flourishing, drugs are widely available, alcohol and cigarettes are recreational. In that difficult reality Makaronov is trying to balance between his work in the theatre, his literary talent, and his love for Luizza Hut. The front-girl of the most popular punk band at that time is anything but the good girl. Dangerous and promiscuous, Luizza becomes Makaronov’s drug, Makaranov’s addiction, Makaranov’s end. He loves her and hates her; he adores her and despises her; he wants to be with hur and he wants to her her. What is love and how to manage it – Markov (Makaronov) gives un answer to this question, an answer to be felt differently depending on who you are, what you think of love, and how you experience it.
Luizza Hut is an example of what modern Bulgarian literature must be. Brutal, cynical, controversial, but straight to the point. You read Markov and you think “Wait, this is way too vulgar for my taste”. And then he says something that makes you stand up in your chair and cry “THIS MAN IS A GENIUS. HE KNOWS WHAT HE IS TALKING ABOUT”. Definitely difficult, definitely misunderstood, and definitely haten, Markov marks the beginning of a new novel. One that on a first glance doesn’t say much but when you come to think about it, it says a lot. About what love is today. Not the sugar-coated romantic and perfect version American movies desperately try to show it to be. Love is everything that we think it is not. Love is a good of the lovers. Love is what no one every suspects it to be. Love is what makes you happy somewhere else, in some other time. Love is difficult; it is never simple. Love cannot be explained, and sometimes it cannot be understood. And love is cynical and brutal, no doubt about it.
I will be reading more from Markov. This guy knows what he is talking about, he has seen things, he has experienced brutalities, and he has much more to show is. In his typical controversial way of doing so.