Published in 1986, three years before the fall of the Berlin Wall, Wolf Hunt was the first novel to portray the human cost of Communist policies on Bulgarian villagers, forced by the government to abandon their land and traditional way of life. Darkly comic and tragic, the novel centers on an ill-fated winter hunting expedition of six neighbors whose long and interwoven shared history comes to light in a voyage of shifting perspectives. Petrov’s narrative technique is reminiscent of Faulkner and Kurosawa’s Roshomon, giving the reader access to the inner lives of the six main characters as they are inextricably pulled into further conflict with each other. Enveloping the individual conflicts between the characters is the conflict between two forces: traditional agrarian values and the atheistic and supposedly egalitarian values of Soviet communism. The eponymous wolf hunt is supposed to heal long-standing grudges between the characters, but in the end, it only serves as an opportunity to exact revenge. One of the foremost works of Bulgarian literature of the past century, Wolf Hunt places the calamitous history of twentieth-century Bulgaria into a human context of helplessness and desperation.
With powerfully pragmatic prose, Ivailo Petrov’s tragic work details the deep wounds inflicted on rural Bulgarian communities by the Soviet regime, using the stories of these six men as an intensely personal example.
— World Literature Today
An explosive mixture of patriarchy and communism, suppressed secrets and broken destinies in a remote Bulgarian village. Hidden traumas send six men on a final hunt – in which they themselves might turn out to be the game. A novel that grabs you by the throat and brings out the wolves in all of us.
— Georgi Gospodinov
A novel about memory - about witnessing and exposing the past.... All of contemporary Bulgarian prose comes out of this novel, whether it admits it or not.
— Georgi Grozdev
A novel where the Earth is still solid and the world still rings, smells, touches, reaches and catches the senses and the sense of the readers. A novel in which dangerous liaisons of discourses and illegitimate marriages of styles perform the tragicomic spectacle of belated Bulgarian modernization.
— Dimitar Kambourov, Trinity College Dublin and Sofia University
[A] complex and compelling epic... [Ivailo Petrov] shows with exceptional skill the stark impact that communism had on the villagers of Bulgaria, and this new translation does his work justice.
— Publishers Weekly
A tragic masterpiece. Petrov’s humanity and attention to comic detail make this an unforgettable reading experience.
— Christopher Baxton