21 December 1963: Having served 20 years for a murder he didn't commit, "Moth" exits Central Sofia Prison anticipating his first night of freedom. Instead he steps into a new and alien world--the nightmarish totalitarianism of Communist Bulgaria. In his first hours of freedom he traverses the map of a diabolical city, full of decaying neighborhoods, gloomy streets, and a bizarre parade of characters. A novel of grave wit, Zift unfolds in the course of a single, frenetic night, offering a fast-paced, ghoulish, even grotesque -- but also enchanting -- tour of shadowy, socialist Sofia. To achieve his depiction of totalitarian absurdity, Vladislav Todorov combines the methods of hardboiled American crime fiction and film noir with socialist symbols and communist ideological cliches.
Zift, Vladislav Todorov's debut novel, was a finalist for the 2007 Vick Prize as Bulgarian Novel of the Year and a nominee for the Elias Canetti National Literary Prize. Todorov also wrote the screenplay for the 2008 film version of Zift. Variety hailed the movie as "an instant midnight fest fave." Todorov teaches film and literature at the University of Pennsylvania.