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Bulgarians somehow seem to thrive in Brazil. Besides President Dilma Russev, another Bulgarian who did well despite daunting challenges was Licco Max Haim. The life story of this Sephardi from Sofia is presented in As Flowers Go, an account of survival during the Shoah years followed by a step-by-step achievement of prosperity deep in the Amazon. The book was originally written in Portuguese as a first-person narrative by Ilko Minev, who slightly fictionalizes the protagonist and changes his name to Licco Hazan.  It was first published in São Paolo in 2014 under the title Onde estão as flores? and has been fluently translated into English by Diane Grosklaus Whitty; a Bulgarian edition was also released that year.

‘Reads like a novel!’ is an overused blurb still slapped onto nonfiction books by burnt-out publicists who can’t think of anything else to say, whether or not it really fits. So, does As Flowers Go qualify for such a threadbare cliché? Quite the contrary. The nicely designed jacket states that it is a novel, and the Brazilian library cataloguers evidently agree, since they classified it as Fiction. But this novel (so-called) reads like a memoir! Except that it’s more exciting than most entries in that genre. Its ‘plot’ is a biographical epic which offers ample novelistic suspense. Confronting adversity, Licco (now of blessed memory) packed more life into his life than most of us would ever dare. It surely takes some special quality to leap from the Balkans into the Brazilian tropics, and there to triumph.


 
 
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Still selling good in Cultura in Sao Paolo!

 
 
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Both books "As Flowers Go" and "The Daughter of the Rivers" next to each other in Livraria da Vila, a prestigious bookstore chain in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Ilko Minev's second novel is still occupying an important place in the Top 10 in Livraria da Vila. 

 

Ilko Minev