24 February 2022
Cover design © Luke Bird
Arrival is literary fiction, a story of domestic abuse; the unnamed narrator moves to London from Bulgaria to escape her abusive father, has a child and leaves the child’s father after feeling bullied into a new life with him. Lyrical and moving, it is interspersed with folk tales and flashbacks.
The plot centres on the child’s eye view of her mother being repeatedly assaulted by her father, with the child feeling powerless to prevent the attacks. It examines her sense of shame and guilt, and her anxiety over perpetuating the cycle of abuse/failure. The folk tales lend a universality and timeslessness to the storyline, the mythical samodivi of Bulgaria representing the spirit of women everywhere fighting stereotypical perceptions of gender roles.
‘I read Arrival in one rapt gulp, urged on by its unnamed narrator’s need to flee her past, escape the confines of womanhood, and the stains of shame and guilt that keep repeating on her, like heartburn. The novel deals in life’s hard knocks, in trauma and deracination, but in langauge that is sensual, languid, feline, snaking with double meaning and sly humour. Like an Sigrid Nunez novel, Arrival seems to be about everything, its canvas expanding and contracting, allowing the story’s particulars to echo far and wide.’
Marina Benjamin, author of The Middlepause and Insomnia
‘A powerful tale about love, domestic violence, motherhood, escape, and arrival on many levels, written with sensuality and poetic force.’
Naja Marie-Aidt, author of Baboon, Rock, Paper, Scissors and Carl’s Book
‘From the opening of Arrival, Nataliya Deleva demonstrates a remarkable talent for conjuring place and moment. It sits the reader beside her unnamed narrator. Whether in the Bulgarian valleys of her childhood or inhabiting the trauma-induced void that’s replaced any semblance of home, we are beside her.’
Harriet Mercer, author of Gargoyles
‘Arrival is a book made up of fragments – fragments of love, motherhood, abuse and marriage – which form an intriguing and moving kaleidoscope narrative. A jagged, beautifully written novel which explores the shattering impact of abuse and how the past shapes the present.’
Sam Mills, author of The Fragments of My Father
‘In her powerful second novel Nataliya Deleva explores the legacy of a childhood scarred by domestic abuse: how the confusion of love with pain creeps into every fragmented shard of adult life, contaminating relationships and complicating motherhood. Through the mythical Samodivi she conjures an enduring archetype of the wild rebel female who has escaped, who rejects the ways men control women. There is beauty and tenderness in the creation of her unnamed narrator’s new life, in the poetry of survival and renewal, and in the breaking of patterns for her daughter – freedom from shattering cruelty.’
Venetia Welby, author of Mother of Darkness
‘Arrival is a story of growth and healing, an unflinching look at the aftermath of growing up in systemic domestic violence. Deleva immerses us into the narrator’s journey of entering motherhood while simultaneously understanding, healing and rebuilding her life. The devastating memories of a lost childhood will not leave the readers unmoved. It hurts to read this book, yet it gives us hope for the resilience of the human spirit. ‘
Katerina Stoykova, author of Second Skin