Read Sonia Kanikova’s Bulgarian summary of her radio interview with Cynthia

“Readers outside of southeastern Europe may not be familiar with Bulgaria, or be able to find the 43,000 square mile Balkan republic on the world map, but through the highly recommended Cold Snap, they are given a wonderful opportunity to travel vicariously to a seldom-visited corner of the world, to immerse themselves in a rich multicultural experience, and to savor superbly rendered short fiction.”

—Tim Davis, ForeWord Reviews

“It’s not unusual for a returning Peace Corps volunteer to write a book. So many have that it's almost a subgenre. Cynthia Morrison Phoel's debut collection of six stories set in a Bulgarian village represents that kind of fiction at its best. Phoel conveys a unique sense of place, yet creates characters whose problems we recognize … When the book ends, you will not want to leave these people. Fortunately, you can read the stories again and learn a little more about Phoel's village each time you do.”

—Anne Morris, Special Contributor to The Dallas Morning News

“With the fierce cold serving as a metaphor for the deep social freeze of this long tyrannized land, Phoel is as confident as the great Russian writer Gogol in her acid humor and insightful portrayals of people who `could endure anything,’ making for an unusually commanding and affecting debut.”

Donna Seaman, Booklist

“Cynthia Morrison Phoel’s delightful first collection of stories, Cold Snap: Bulgaria Stories, is certainly about Bulgaria … But reading the stories, one doesn’t think first of Bulgaria. One thinks: When will the heat come on?”

—Mark Brazaitis, author of The River of Lost Voices: Stories from Guatemala (read the review on Peace Corps Worldwide)

Advance praise for Cold Snap

“I am greatly impressed with Cold Snap, a look at Bulgarian life—family life, school life, frustration, even passion and desire. Cynthia Phoel writes from inside this culture, convincingly and with real insight.”

—Paul Theroux, author of The Great Railway Bazaar

Cold Snap marks the premiere of a bold and talented writer. Phoel writes with great authority and examines the lives of her characters fearlessly, without sentimentality or sensationalism. The writing is pitch perfect; the stories are powerful and heartbreaking. There won’t be many books published this year of the same quality.”

—Robert Boswell, author of The Heyday
of the Insensitive Bastards

 “This collection of connected stories is a wonderful trip to Bulgaria. Cynthia Phoel brings together a gallery of characters, portraying them in depth, with a sense of humor and benevolence. Here are the distinctive flavors, melodies, and colors of Bulgaria.”

—Josip Novakovich, author of April Fool’s Day

“An audacious achievement. Phoel’s intricate, moving, altogether original fiction conjures a Bulgaria at once beautifully specific and untethered to the map: a place of hardship, cold weather, satellite TV, and fierce, crooked longings that erupt through the cracks like weeds. Her characters are so stubbornly alive, rendered with such generosity and precision and humor, it seems nothing—neither their small apartments nor their limited prospects, not even the pages of a book—can contain them.”

—Robert Cohen, author of Amateur Barbarians

“In these tender, moving, and very funny stories, Cold Snap offers an enthralling look at life in the forgotten zones of Eastern Europe.”

—Katherine Shonk, author of The Red Passport

“In Cold Snap, Cynthia Phoel transports her readers to a country where the heat is overwhelming in summer, stingy and state controlled in winter, and jobs are scarce and poorly paid. Old Mountain is the opposite of an easy place to live, but these beautifully written linked stories, with their surprising leaps of empathy, make it an absolute pleasure for the reader to visit.”

—Margot Livesey, author of The House on Fortune Street

“This collection has a Chekhovian feel, as Phoel finds the small details that open up the characters’ inner lives with precision and compassion. Characters intersect and face hard truths, lives become complicated in an instant, and despite what seems most bleak, things sort themselves out and love is still possible even with the hard knot of all that disappoints and deprives. Phoel captures happiness and sadness—the multi-layered texture of the lived life—with great honesty and beauty in stories that are expertly crafted.’’

—Lee Martin, author of River of Heaven

“With a rare combination of the exotic and recognizable, these are wonderfully vibrant stories.”

—Lara Vapnyar, author of Broccoli and Other Tales
of Food and Love

“I admire Cynthia Phoel’s use of original material, and the skill with which she makes an unfamiliar world real.”

—Alison Lurie, author of Truth and Consequences