(1923 - 2005)
Ivailo Petrov (pen name of Prodan Petrov Kyuchukov) was born in the village of Gökçe Dölük (now Bdintsi), near Varna. He completed his high school education in Dobrich; took part in the final stages of World War II. He worked as editor for Radio Sofia (1949-1953), Publishing house “Balgarski pisatel” (1953-1966), the “Plamak” magazine (1968-1971), and the “Literaturen vestnik” newspaper. He was member of the Council for the Development of Cultural Values within the State Council (1973-1983), and after 1989 became one of the founding members of the Association of Bulgarian Writers (1994) and a member of the National Council for Radio and Television (1999-2001).
His first collection of short stories Krashtenie [Baptism] (1953) and the long short story Na chuzhda zemya [On Foreign Soil] (1962) was based on the front-line experience of the writer. But it was as early as 1956, in his long short story Nonkinata lyubov [Nonka’s Love] that he found his primary topic of interest – the Bulgarian village and the changes occurring in it after World War II. The dramatic events affecting villages during the period of mass collectivization are at the centre of his novel Martvo valnenie [Ground-swell] (1961). The popular long short story Predi da se rodya i sled tova [Before I Was Born and Afterwards] (1968) again drew a portrait of the Bulgarian patriarchal world – this time with an ironic take, disputing both its rendition in the classics of Bulgarian national literature and the ways in which it was approached by the proponents of socialist realism. Haika za valtsi [Wolf Hunt] (1982/1986, 1987) – a defining novel for the 1980s in the Bulgarian context – is indicative yet again of the writer’s attempt (after Ground-swell) to convey the tragedy of the village folk who were forced by the communist social and political project to give up their land and abandon their traditional way of life.
During the 1960s, 70s and 80s, Petrov also published volumes of short stories and long short stories in which he took an interest in the “contemporary city man”, spiritual deprivation, the eternal and historically conditioned imperfections of the individual and society ( Malki ilyuzii [Small Illusions], 1963; Obarkani zapiski [Confused Notes], books 1, 2, 1971, 1989; Lazhlivi hora [Deceptive People] 1973; Bozhi raboti [God’s Affairs], 1979; Nai-dobriyat grazhdanin na republikata [The Best Citizen of the Republic], 1980; Tri sreshti [Three Encounters], 1981, etc.). Following the next historical quake (1989), Ivailo Petrov published the novel Prisada smartna [Death Sentence] (1991) – pronouncing his verdict on the amoral and inhumane characteristics of the ideology which emerged victorious on 9 September 1944. The last novel of the writer, Baronovi [The Baronovs], deals with ethical dilemmas and moral issues.
Ivailo Petrov has received a number of awards, among them the Union of Bulgarian Writers Award for 1986, the Yordan Yovkov Award (1990), the Order of Stara planina First degree (2000), the Prize for Life Contribution to Bulgarian Literary Culture Hristo G. Danov (2002).
His works have been translated into English by Andrey Danchev and Grigor Pavlov.