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Drago Simeonov: 100 Pieces of History should entertain, not to teach or edify.

May 20, 2013 by · 3 comments

Jasmina Tacheva interviews Dragomir Simeonov


Hello! Your book 100 Pieces of History was presented at Stroeja last week. How did the event go and are you planning any more presentations of the book soon?

It was very fun, thankfully, because the basic idea of 100 Pieces of History is to entertain, not to teach or edify. We often tend to forget that history is actually composed of hundreds of small stories, each of which can be very interesting, depending on the narrator.

Is there a connection between the book and Darik’s radio series Pieces of History?

The book is a natural sequel of the series. It has been on air for almost 6 years now and has aired over 1,000 episodes during that time. The idea to collect some of them in a book has been in the air for a long time. Initially, there were supposed to be 365 stories in order to have something interesting for each day of the year – just like the series takes place daily.

This proved to be very complicated technically, the book would have been as thick as Joyce’s Ulysses. Another option was to have 101 pieces of history. So in the libraries, the book would have been placed immediately after 101 Dalmatians. Now it follows One Hundred Years of Solitude.


Does the term history in the title refer to history as a science, to storytelling as a system of stories that live on when they are (re)told by people, or to both?

If a question like this exists, then my goal is accomplished. It applies to both. But the same goes for the word “pieces”. It can be understood as a part of something larger, which should be assembled, but also as a musical composition, because each piece has its own different sound. In a way I’m not a historical composer, but rather a historical DJ.

Can a historical fact turn into a personal story through the lens of the narrator, or how much about Drago Simeonov can be found in the hundred stories?

I’m afraid that the text in the book is too little and this is a desired effect. Here, the emphasis is on illustration, primarily because it remained hidden in the radio version. Therefore, the Pieces are not art in the full sense of the word. I myself can be found more in their selection, not so much in their description, which is slightly dry for my own taste and had to fit in a limited number of characters.

What did all these pieces of (his)story teach you about yourself and the world?

I learned that knowledge is pleasure and like every pleasure, can often be boring to others but it can also be contagious. Another important lesson is that storytellers must either be trusted completely, or not to be trusted at all. There is no middle way.

Do the stories in the book have a unifying theme or mood?

What they all have in common is the pleasant feeling after reading them. They do not exhaust the theme, but just open it. Anyone can continue putting the pieces of the puzzle together by themselves, if they so desire.


Why is it important to remember the stories of the past?

So we know that people have always had a tendency to fantasize and try to convince others that this is reality. Once you realize that, you have nothing to worry about.

In what situations would you imagine your readers reading the book? For example – alone or in company, and if in company – on what occasion?

The book can be read in 45 minutes. And reread for 30. And that’s the trick. You can listen to any piece of music (in the broader sense – to any album) more than once and under various conditions, so I’d like the same to be true about 100 Pieces of History. Read it wherever you want and whomever you want with. But I’d be even happier if you decide to return to it after a while.

Have you kept track of whether the sad or the joyful stories are prevalent in our daily lives during the years of Pieces of History?

The truth is that the sad and the cheerful ones are in balance. Which ones will seem prevalent, depends on our own mood. Personally, I like to blend them in my stories. In my own life, however, I am an ardent supporter of happy stories.

Have there been stories during the broadcast period of the show that you really wanted tell, but refrained from doing so for one reason or another?

There have been stories I’ve tried to present in an interesting way, though they themselves seemingly haven’t been interesting. But there are no the stories that I have found interesting and haven’t told on air. I’d never let that happen.

A piece of history for today?

Let’s leave dates aside. Just open the book to a random page and see what you’ll find. This is the story for today.

Can Pitanka (Bulg. for question mark) be regarded as a kind of a successor to Pieces of History?

Pitanka only expands the range of stories by adding myths, urban legends, verbal archeology and even conspiracies to them. Also, here, the relation listener-narrator is key, while with the Pieces, the listener had just a passive role.

In Pitanka every question comes from a particular person, and I know he/she is waiting for a response.


Can you think of a question that you have received which has been particularly intriguing to you?

I get ten times more questions than those I manage to answer, so I really only respond to the ones that are most intriguing to me. And plus I constantly surprise myself with the answers, because I don’t know them in advance, and have to look for them.

Drago Simeonov + Poetry =?

Poetry is a
which immediately
in prose.

One can express one’s feelings and thoughts in a dozen different ways, and when one thinks they have mastered words to some extent, they can try poetry as well. To me personally, however, poets have always looked a little like posers and verbal exhibitionists, so I wouldn’t call myself one.

Can journalism can become literature or other form of art?

Good journalism can become anything. Bad journalism is good for nothing.

Does speaking into a microphone feel different in a radio studio than in front of a live audience, in Poshtenska kutia za prikazki (Mailbox for Tales) for example?

It probably does, but I don’t look at it this way. When you want to tell something interesting, it does not matter if you say it to one person or a million. You always say it personally. I will explain it with a song again. When you hear a song on the radio or at a concert, you never think to yourself that it is not specifically for you, because it’s been heard by many more people. The listener always thinks of themselves as “I”, not as “we.”


Can we expect more literary projects in the future?

The expression “literary project” sounds very sweet, but I’m not sure if I’ve ever been involved in any.

“Literature” is for me a sacred word and I am very careful with its use, while a “project” is what my son builds with LEGO blocks. So I like to participate in projects, and if some of them have a pinch of literature in them, I’d be very happy.

How would you describe the upcoming summer, personally and globally?

The future is a mystery. As a collector of stories, I can describe dozens of summers, but they have all already passed. What lies ahead, I won’t be able to say until next year. First I need to experience it.

Thank you!



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