Bulgarians stuck to the classics and its sense of patriotism and chose Ivan Vazov's novel Under the Yoke as the winner in The Big Read TV format.
The campaign, which started on Bulgarian National Television on October 5 2008, ended on March 22 2009 with people choosing from 12 novels. The rules of the format, owned by the BBC, stipulated that everybody could nominate a book. On the specially launched for the purpose 4etene.bnt.bg website. people could vote online, via sms, telephone calls and by sending letters.
The final count revealed that the top four books were by Bulgarian authors. The winner, Under the Yoke, was written in 1893 and is considered as the first - if not the greatest - Bulgarian novel and the best example of Bulgarian literature of its time.
The novel depicts life in a Bulgarian small town amid preparations for the 1876 April uprising just two years before the end of the 500-year-long Ottoman rule.
The novel has been translated into more than 30 languages. Vazov is considered the father of Bulgaria's modern literature. Under the Yoke has been deemed indispensable in schools for several decades now.
The second ranked novel, Time of Parting by Anton Donchev, also describes Bulgaria's tribulations under Ottoman rule. It goes back to the time when the Bulgarian Christian population in the Rhodope Mountains was forced to convert to Islam. It is full of brutal and bloody scenes depicting the extreme courage of Bulgarians who chose death instead of renouncing their faith.
Overall, out of the 12 finalists, only one author was represented by two novels - Dimitar Dimov with his Doomed Souls and Tyutyun (Tobacco). Of the 12, seven are written by foreign authors.
The complete list is as follows: