As a child, Miroslav Penkov saw men and women dancing barefoot across glowing coals in the Strandja Mountains of Bulgaria. That image inspired the associate professor of English to write the novel Stork Mountain (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), in which a young immigrant searching for his grandfather ends up in those same mountains. Penkov wrote the book with the support of UNT's Institute for the Advancement of the Arts.
"The memory never really left me," he says. "I read about the tragic history of this place, about the countless wars, the massive migrations of people forced to abandon their homes. It came to me that the Strandja itself was a fire dancer. That for millennia, she had passed through fire, been reduced to ash and risen again."