Nataliya Deleva


Janet45 Publishing/Bulgaria (2017). Sold to Eta Verlag/Germany. Translated by Elitza Kotzeva. 

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Nataliya Deleva’s debut novel INVISIBLE (Невидими) offers an intriguing literary experience that raises important questions about social inequality, poverty, physical disability, sexual abuse, queerness, and ageism. Deleva’s fragmented narrative weaves these topics together, tying them by a common theme: the social invisibility of her characters. The text takes the reader to places and situations from the past in the author’s home country, Bulgaria. The fast-paced narrative style breathes suspense into each one of the stories in the book, crafting a multifaceted and colorful patchwork of important social inclusion concerns.

In the leading storyline of INVISIBLE, Leah, a woman in her mid-thirties, relates her experience of growing up in an orphanage, revealing how her childhood without mother and without love has affected her current existence. Leah’s life in the orphanage is defined by daily rape, feelings of abandonment, and lack of proper adult care. Years later, Leah decides to go back to an orphanage as a volunteer. There she notices a little girl who struggles with issues similar to those from her childhood. Leah decides she wants to adopt the little girl and give her the opportunity to have a mother—Leah’s own childhood dream. In post-communist Bulgaria, they face exhausting red tape obstacles, which delay the reunion of mother and child. The story has an open ending, inviting the reader to hope that, despite overwhelming bureaucracy, love will prevail and make everything possible.

INVISIBLE was nominated for 2018 for Novel of the Year at the National Literature Award 13 Veka Bulgaria, shortlisted at the 2016 Bulgarian Literary Competition Razvitie, and received second prize for debut novel at 2018 Juzhna Prolet Awards—a prestigious Bulgarian literary competition.

"Invisible is a novel about people on the margins of society. Different storylines interlace in order to tell one story: about the invisibility. This is a book that grabs you by the throat, a poignant novel."—Georgi Gospodinov, author of The Physics of Sorrow


Nataliya Deleva was born in 1978 in Sliven, Bulgaria. She graduated from Sofia University with a Master’s Degree in Public Relations. Deleva has worked as a reporter at several national media organizations in Bulgaria: Democracy Newspaper (1997/1998), Darik Radio (1998/1999), and Monitor Newspaper (2000). She is also the curator and editor of the children’s book Once Upon a Time, a collection of bedtime stories by seventeen bloggers and illustrations by their children—in aid of Save the Children, UK.