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GLINA (CLAY) By Victoria Beshliiska
The bestselling novel named The Booksellers’ Choice and The Viewers’ Choice for 2021 in Bulgaria
Legend has it that in the 17th century the indigenous potters from the small Bulgarian village of Busintsi, Tran region, received the blessing of the Turkish sultan to be the only ones who can travel freely within the Ottoman empire to sell their wares. There was so much primordial power, beauty, and simplicity in their pottery that it opened both hearts and doors everywhere.
The mystical force of these craftsmen’s art also runs in the pages of Glina (Clay) by author Victoria Beshliiska. The novel takes the raw soil of the legend and twists it on the writer’s wheel to knead a story that flows like water and purifies like fire.
We are all made not of words, but of mud.
She is Zhara* (from Slavic: жар [žar] – embers ) – with a name born of fire, and a spirit of a raging mountain stream. He is Veliko – a master potter by heritage and by heart, who breathes clay and lives for the wheel.
Their encounter is like a clash of wind in a flame – the air can ignite the spark as easily as it can smoulder it. But when the fate of the whole village stands in its way, their love becomes the remedy of the collective pain. Veliko knows well that the freedom of the Busintsi pottery masters can come out of his fingers. But he does not suspect that the clay in his heart would seal Zhara as its own.
Photo: Nevena Rikova
Victoria Beshliiska is a philologist by education and a discoverer by vocation. She has worked as a teacher, editor of fiction, and marketing expert.
Beshliiska is the author of a blog for collecting old and rare Bulgarian words, which has become extremely popular on social networks in the last three years. Her debut novel Glina (Clay), about the original and living art of master potters from the small Bulgarian village of Busintsi, won the 2021 Booksellers’ Choice Award of the largest bookstore chain in Bulgaria and was named Book of the Year 2021 by the viewers of Bulgarian National TV weekly show The Library.
With tens of thousands of copies sold in just a year, the novel became a phenomenon on the Bulgarian book market. It also inspired hundreds of people to visit the region where the story in Glina (Clay) takes place and rediscover the beautiful ceramics of Busintsi.
At present, Beshliiska is fully committed to her research. Exploring and writing about historical legends and little-known places in her native Bulgaria, she is determined to bring forth an emphasis on the values of the past, from which we could all draw spiritual strength in today’s time of crisis.