This is not, however, a misery memoir, but a profound meditation on the depth of change triggered by the events of 1989 throughout eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. It is also poignant, unbearably so at times, as she tries, but often fails, to defy the fatalism that she marks as a particular Bulgarian characteristic.
Kassabova grew up under the ominous and literally poisonous shadow of Kremikovtsi, the largest metallurgical works in eastern Europe, in Bloc 3 of the housing estate known simply as Youth. The grotty high-rise reflected Bulgarian society – neglect and hypocrisy were eating away at the foundations of lofty ideals rendered senseless through ritual repetition. Even for those wielding power, the system had become meaningless.
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