Sofia Literature and Translation house is an initiative of Next Page Foundation that was started in 2014 as a follow-up of the foundation's Translation Lab project prepared for the Sofia candidacy for the European Capital of Culture. After many years of various attempts and discussions between cultural organizations in Sofia on the need of literary residencies in the city, we found a committed partner in the face of the Sofia Municipality and developed a strategy for the Literature House's development.
The House works for an increased literary communication via translations, by placing a special focus on the so called lesser-used or peripheral languages. It develops professional qualification programs for Bulgarian literary translators and offers residency facilities to internationals working in the book field: translators of Bulgarian literature, writers, editors, agents, literary managers. At the House's premises, the Next Page Foundation and partner organizations offer a variety of public discussions, book launches, workshops for children and the youth, readers clubs.
Sofia Literature and Translation House in a nutshell:
The house is part of the cultural history of Sofia from both the pre-WWII and the socialist period. It was built in the '30s of the 20th century as a residential facility and from 1936 to 1977 the renowned Bulgarian painter Nenko Balkanski (1907-1977) lived and worked there.
Sofia History Museum curates a permanent interactive exposition of Nenko Balkanski’s works which at the House which is open to the public.
Acquired by the state in the '80s, the house was left without care until 2014, when the local administration undertook an overall reconstruction to prevent its collapse. In May 2015 Sofia Municipality approved a project proposed by Next Page Foundation to develop a strategy for establishing a Literature and Translation House in this space. The preparations took six months and comprised various activities with the local community (awareness campaign and needs assessment), the professional community of writers and translators, a roadmap for a new form of public-private partnership with the municipality, infrastructure adjustments and preparation of a series of key documents related to strategy, management, financing and fundraising. The citizens and cultural institutions in the neighborhood witnessed the transformation of the abandoned house into a small cultural center.
Sofia Literature and Translation House was officially approved as a joint program of Next Page Foundation and Sofia Municipality by Decision № 160 / 11.02.2016 by Sofia City Council. The house is located in the eastern part of Sofia, close to the largest park in the city, in a quiet residential neighborhood. See contacts for more information.
In June 2016 Sofia Literature and Translation House becomes a member of the European network of international literary translation centers RECIT (Réseau Européen des Centres Internationaux de Traducteurs littéraires). In the following year the network's General assembly takes place in Sofia and in 2019 Sofia Literature and Translation House's director Yana Genova is the network's president.
In 2017, Sofia Literature and Translation House receives Sofia Muicipality Award for notable achievements in the field of culture with nomination by Bulgarian Translators' Union.
In the beginning of 2021, succeeding 70+ events - workshops, seminars, public discussions and meetings with authors and translators, residency program with 46 residents from 24 countries, 5 participations in Frankfurter Buchmesse, Sofia Literature and Translation House celebrates its 5th birthday.
About Nenko Balkanski
Nenko Dimitrov Balkanski was born on September 20, 1907 in Kazanlak. In 1930 he finished his studies in painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Sofia under the guidance of Prof. Nikola Marinov and Prof. Boris Mitov. Later, in 1939-1940, he specialized in France, Italy, Germany. He worked as a painting teacher in the countryside and in Sofia. In 1937 he was awarded the Gold Medal at the exhibition in Paris. His inspiration and favorite models were the ordinary people. Balkanski participated in many international exhibitions (Venice, Paris, Athens, Vienna, Moscow, Leningrad, Berlin, Bucharest, Prague, India, Turkey and others). In 1949 Nenko Balkanski married Liliana Prosenichkova, great-granddaughter of Baba Tonka and granddaughter of Nicolas Obretenov. Her parents were killed in the first days after the Bulgarian coup d'état of 1944. Liliana became his eternal free model. She was always the first person to whom Nenko would show his paintings and ask for opinion. In 1947 he started teaching and in 1959 he became professor of painting at the National Academy of Fine Arts in Sofia. Nenko Balkanski was also an art critic.
Some of his most famous paintings are "Family" (1936, National Gallery), "The family of the worker" (1940, National Gallery), "The woman with the medallion" (1937, National Gallery), "Georgi Dimitrov in prison - 1918" (1949, National Gallery), "Portrait of the composer D.P. Ivanov" (1952, National Gallery), "Portrait of Valeska" (1946, National Gallery), "Portrait of a lady" (1950). His works are exhibited in the National Art Gallery, the Art Gallery of Kazanlak, Rousse, as well as in Germany, the Czech Republic, etc.