Review: Time Shelter by Georgi Gospodinov, Translated by Angela Rodel

It is not often that I get the chance to read a book set in Bulgaria, so when I found a copy of Time Shelter for sale in Dymocks, I was immediately intrigued. The winner of the International Booker Prize in 2023, the novel boasts an interesting plot. The main character is a collector of things from the past, and soon finds himself employed by the mysterious Gaustine who wants to open a 'clinic of the past' which offers treatments for dementia patients. However, things take a twist when the clinic starts to become too successful and perfectly healthy people begin to spend time and check in to the clinics, which have now sprung up across Europe. Then other places start to embrace this nostalgia for the past, until entire nations decide turn back the clocks and return to the past--or is there something else at work? The author piles on twist after twist in this surprising and cleverly plotted novel.

This was something of well, an adventure. The author plays with the reader, often turning the events of the previous chapter into something quite different in the next. It took me a while, but once I realised that the novel served as a metaphor for memory loss and the confusing way that reality can change in an instant for people with dementia, that the story started to make a lot more sense. One of the most intriguing aspects of the novel was the setting--the main character had grown up in Bulgaria, a country that saw significant change in the twentieth century. 

An interesting read. Recommended.


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