Where faith meets religion and love meets morals comes the beautiful historical novel God, why is the Lord lying?, the first chapter of a tetralogy. Set at the peak of the Bulgarian Renaissance in the 18th century when Bulgaria was part of the Ottoman Empire, this book, written by the movie director and political PR of Bulgarian and Syrian descent Nidal Algafari, stimulates every single one of our senses. You can see the patterns on the aprons of the fair maidens. You can smell the aroma of the jasmine bushes or the freshly baked bread. You can taste the mouth-watering food or the cold spring water. You can feel the fine fabrics caressing the skin of the young bride or the touch of the passionate lover. You can hear the songs sung at the gatherings celebrating the numerous traditional pagan holidays filled with magic and mystery.
God, why is the Lord lying? is among the few literary works in Bulgaria which give a different perspective of the time when Bulgaria was part of the Ottoman Empire. Contrary to the rather negative attitude imposed during socialist times, the novel strives to describe the everyday life of the Bulgarian, Turkish, Gypsy, Jewish and many more people who lived together in peace and mutual help. The author manages to depict an intriguing interweaving of traditions and beliefs, all of which leading to Bulgaria’s present diverse culture.
Tradition is a key word when it comes to describing this brilliant piece of work which can be compared to the classic authors in Bulgarian literature, as well as writers like Elif Shafak, Orhan Pamuk and Khaled Hosseini. God, why is the Lord lying? can serve as an ethnological encyclopedia. It shows the richness of Bulgarian culture through its incredible customs and celebrations, some of them long-forgotten even by the Bulgarians themselves – silent water, ancient conception rituals, love spells, fire dancers and many more.
All of the different storylines (some of which depicting various possible love situations and the most beautiful love-making – e.g. unrequited love, romance between homosexuals or between a castrated man and a married woman) lead to the main one told by the plague-stricken icon-painter Bogomil (“dear to God”) to the monk Bojidar (“gift from God”). The two dispute the paradoxes in the Bible and the validity of the 10 commandments, they differentiate between faith and religion, the loving and accepting God and the sanctioning Lord created by mankind, in the form of quiet discussions, all stemming from Bogomil’s heart-breaking story of impossible love.
God, why is the Lord lying? is the first of three volumes. The second book is called Allah, have you no mercy? and shifts the focus of the “faith vs. religion” dispute from the Bible and Christianity to the Qur’an and Islam. The third book will be named If you love, you are God.
“Allah, have you no mercy?” Part Two of a tetralogy, published in October 2015.
A novel in which I introduce the readers to the diversity of the people, the variegation of the spiritual life and the wisdom of the traditions and the beautiful customs left from those olden times and still living today. I have described the dervishes and Islam, the Jews who have seemingly converted to Islam and the ones who have seemingly converted to Christianity, the Bogomils – followers of Manichaeism and predecessors of Catharism and Protestantism, the daalias and the kardjalias – people of the mountains and the fields, thieves and robbers on the road (highwaymen). The characters who have joined the dance in the first book still keep the fire burning – sometimes through tears, sometimes through laughter, but always from their hearts and souls, genuinely living. In both parts of the tetralogy, I intertwine their love stories and their fates through the myths, the ethnology and the folklore of the various religious communities in Bulgaria.
Translation: Aleksandra Algafari
To buy or order books Nidal Algafari, Madlеn Algafari and publishing “Algafari” online, go to http://www.algafaribooks.eu