Within the frame of The Library of Our Encounters: words between us, hanging just so, we invite you to join a conversation with Momchil Milanov and friends on the occasion of his first novel Summer in Stormland (Aquarius Press), published in August 2021.
"It's summer in the title, winter in the story," Mitko Novkov recently wrote in his review of the novel. The main part of Summer in Stormland takes place in the week of Christmas, but there is nothing festive about it. Ever since Baron Nulde arrived in Greystadt with his dirigible, the city has been overtaken by anxiety, despondency, and dejection. The machine, hovering menacingly over people's heads, captures them with its grim force. It gradually becomes clear that at stake is the most personal and innermost realm of the people of Greystadt – their dreams. The main character of the book is a nine-year-old child, and at the centre is his attempt to save the city and the Ministry of Dreams, increasingly intertwining and questioning the dichotomies of reality/imagination, known/un, fiction/truth, dreams/power, and inevitably politics/evil. "The story raises the threatening scaffolding of power, of political and social change in a city conquered by the winter cold, which bears the marks of something well known," the book's annotation reads. Summer in Stormland refers to Kafka's sinister administrative machine, or to Borges's fantastic structures, but also to Michael Ende, Andersen, and many others, and builds a complex world seen through the acute sensitivity of children’s perception.
The book will also invariably give occasion to discuss what is happening today. In this situation of anxiety and danger, in its many shapes and forms, we believe that it is more important than ever to talk about the ability of imagination to resist power, and about traumas and historical memory.
Momchil Milanov was born in 1986 in Sofia. He holds Master degrees in International Law and International Relations from the University of Strasbourg and the College of Europe in Bruges. He is currently a PhD candidate and teaching assistant at the University of Geneva. Previously he has worked in various organisations in Brussels, The Hague, Paris, and Sofia. His texts have been published in Kultura, K, Svema, GRANTA, Textile, among others.