By Atina Dimitrova
~ A book review of the novel "The Burgas Affair" (Ellis Shuman)
The 18th July 2012 will remain in Bulgarian history as one of the most unexpected and sorrowful events. Five Israelis and one Bulgarian have died in a terrorist attack in Burgas, the fourth-largest city in Bulgaria.There is no terrorist organization claiming responsibility for the attack.
Ellis Shuman, an American author, currently living in Israel, tries to turn this real story into fiction in his second novel “The Burgas Affair” (2016). Mr Shuman regularly writes about Bulgaria. As a person who has lived among Bulgarians for two years, he knows how to show the temperament of Balkan people. The book has been released initially in Bulgarian. Its English version is yet to be published.
The plot of the novel is focused on the investigation after the terrorist attack. Bulgarian State Agency for National Security and the National Intelligence Agency of Israel, Mossad, are trying to find who is responsible for the attack.
Mossad’s agent Ayala Navon is working with SANS’ servant Boyko Stanchev for further investigation. However, the evolution of this crime story leads to… delicate love moments between the agents. Their love faces many impediments because Ayala and Boyko are supposed to preserve their professional relationship.
Ayala is a fortress not to be occupied even by a thoughtful and strong conqueror as Boyko. She, however, succeeds in proving her unconditional respect and special feelings towards Stanchev when he meets somebody very cruel.
It does not say it all, though. Boyko is a loyal servant of Bulgarian citizens, but his past reveals some misdeeds too. Therefore, when one of Boyko’s long-lasting enemies is released from prison, Ayala uses her skills as a secret agent to help Stanchev.
Boyko meets a mobster who has been in a detention center because of how Stanchev has tackled the gangster’s crimes in the past. Is revenge what follows next? Yes… and even beyond it.
Yet, the novel is a thriller. And if all facts aforementioned are not enough, the plot reveals an attempt for another terrorist attack taking place in the capital city of Bulgaria, Sofia.
The story takes place primarily in Bulgaria, showing typical facts of Bulgarian history, culture and… cuisine (you will understand more about Shopska salad, which is the Bulgarian cold salad popular throughout the Balkans since the 1950s, as well as more about rakia, a famour fruit brandy).
Full of many dialogues, the story blossoms quickly and unexpectedly. Love followed by many obstacles and hatred thriving freely emerge out of the investigations of SANS and Mossad.
Dedicated to the victims of the terrorist attack at Burgas Airport, the book shows how a novel can bring up further discussion on what has happened in 2012. Mr Shuman indirectly outlines the importance of bringing every investigation to an end.
What this novel stands out with is Mr Shuman’s ability to represent a major historic moment throughout a current Bulgarian perspective. And it is not only about history. It is also about all immortal impediments all human beings face in their lives while empowering the truth.
There are half-truths, misinformation and terror which the characters face. But because balance matters, you will also see a love story between human beings full of insecurities. You will finish this five-star novel of short sentences and active voice intellectually stimulated.
Author of two novels published in Bulgarian. Photography lover. Journalism student at City University London