The people of Bulgaria, descendants of a civilization that stretches back to the seventh century, spend their lives struggling with the same concerns as the people of Chicago: economic survival, loneliness, self-respect, sex and the need for warmth both emotional and physical.
In her debut collection, “Cold Snap: Bulgaria Stories,” author Cynthia Morrison Phoel presents us with the residents of a broke-down housing block in the fictitious, post-communist town of Old Mountain. Mothers who are both careworn and caring, fathers defeated, drunken or loving, and sons and daughters torn between devotion and independence populate these six linked stories. The characters’ interior lives as well as the complex relationships and casual encounters that shape the endurance contest that is their daily fare are delicately drawn with humor, insight and empathy, in beautifully crafted prose. (Micki Leventhal)
Phoel reads from “Cold Snap” as part of Come Home Chicago, September 12 at The Underground Wonder Bar, 10 East Walton, (312)266-7761, at 6pm. Free. (21 & up) and September 13 at The Book Stall, 811 Elm, Winnetka (847)446-8880, at 7pm. Free.