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On the Road to Babadag

Travels in the Other Europe

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Andrzej Stasiuk is a restless and indefatigable traveler. His journeys take him from his native Poland to Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Slovenia, Albania, Moldova, and Ukraine. By car, train, bus, ferry. To small towns and villages with unfamiliar-sounding yet strangely evocative names. “The heart of my Europe,” Stasiuk tells us, “beats in Sokolow, Podlaski, and in Husi, not in Vienna.” 

Where did Moldova end and Transylvania begin, he wonders as he is being driven at breakneck speed in an ancient Audi—loose wires hanging from the dashboard—by a driver in shorts and bare feet, a cross swinging on his chest. In Comrat, a funeral procession moves slowly down the main street, the open coffin on a pickup truck, an old woman dressed in black brushing away the flies above the face of the deceased. On to Soroca, a baroque-Byzantine-Tatar-Turkish encampment, to meet Gypsies. And all the way to Babadag, between the Baltic Coast and the Black Sea, where Stasiuk sees his first minaret, “simple and severe, a pencil pointed at the sky.” 

A brilliant tour of Europe’s dark underside—travel writing at its very best.

Publishers Weekly Review

Jul 11, 2011 – In this poetic travel memoir, Stasiuk (winner of the 2005 Nike Award, Poland's most prestigious literary prize) transports readers across Eastern Europe—from Poland to Ukraine, Moldova, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Albania, and Romania. Past and present are intertwined as Stasiuk paints verbal snapshots of his travels in a style that is simultaneously detailed and abstract: "Sometimes I get up before sunrise to watch the way the dark thins out and objects slowly reveal themselves, the trees, the rest of the landscape…The light of dawn, cold and blue, gradually fills the world, and it's the same in every place I've been. The dark pales into the district of Sekowa, in the town of Sulina, on the edge of the Danube Delta - and everywhere time is made of night and day." Traveling via bus, train, and car, Stasiuk pens his impressions of small towns and villages while collecting 167 passport stamps in seven years. He reports on violent events, such as extortion, from border guards and fights between teenage skinheads, with little emotion. His calm and steady voice invites readers to settle down comfortably for virtual travels.
On the Road to Babadag
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  • $9.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Essays & Memoirs
  • Published: Jun 16, 2011
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Seller: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company
  • Print Length: 272 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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