18% Gray

by Zachary Karabashliev


Fiction from Open Letter Books
Translated from Bulgarian

Zach’s journey unleashes a series of erratic, hilarious, and life-threatening events interspersed with flashbacks to his relationship with Stella. The story shifts from present day California to Eastern Europe in the late eighties, flows briefly through France, and climaxes in a penthouse above Manhattan. A suspenseful, darkly funny love story.

SKU: 117 Category:


Open Letter Books
novel | paperback| 297 pages


Distraught over the sudden disappearance of his wife Stella, Zack tries to drown his grief in Tijuana, where he encounters a violent scene, and trying to save a stranger’s life, nearly loses his own. Escaping with the van of his attackers, he makes it back to the U.S., but only to find a bag of marijuana in it.

Using this as an impetus to change his life, Zack sets off for New York with the weed and a vintage Nikon. Through the lens of the old camera, he starts rediscovering himself by photographing an America we rarely see.

18% Gray won both the Bulgarian Novel of the Year Award and the Flower of the Readers Award when it was first published in 2008.

Translated from the Bulgarian by Angela Rodel

About the Author: Zachary Karabashliev is a Bulgarian-born novelist and playwright, now living and writing in the U.S. His debut novel—18% Gray—is a bestselling title, winner of the VIK prize Novel of the Year, and one of the 100 most-loved books of all time by Bulgarians in the BBC campaign “The Big Read.” He is also the author of the short story collections A Brief History of the Airplane and Symmetry, as well as the awarded stage plays Recoil and Sunday Evening. He also wrote the screenplay for the film adaptation of 18% Gray.

“Join Zack on his harrowing, hilarious, hell-for-ganja journey, and see an American landscape re-imagined through eyes both fresh and jaded, grief-dulled and stiletto-sharp. And watch out for those dirty martinis—they’re killers.”
—Arthur Salm, author of Anyway*

“Zachary Karabashliev’s writing is fearless, raw, and beautiful. 18% Gray makes it impossible to look away . . . not that you’d want to.”
—Maya Sloan, author of High before Homeroom

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