Glowing Reviews of Andrzej Stasiuk's On the Road to Babadag
Translated from Polish, the spellbinding language of Andrzej Stasiuk's On the Road to Babadag: Travels in the Other Europe, released in June 2011 in the US, Canada and the UK, is already garnering superb reviews
The book is a mysterious, wonderful journey through the other Europe. Stasiuk is not interested in museums or quaint villages and admits he is "drawn to decline and decay". His travels through Moldova, Albania, Slovenia, and Hungary are filled with the smell of cigarettes, sweat, and manure, and the landscapes, often flat and brown, with crumbling buildings, are only occasionally alight with a fiery sunset. Stasiuk's book is his recollections of old journeys through Poland and Eastern European countries.
"Andrzej Stasiuk writes beautifully, powerfully and vividly. Of that, there is no question' writes Jim Anderson for the Star Tribune (08/07/2011)
"The author may not be a joyful traveler, but he is wonderfully observant, and his evocative writing, at times almost poetic, makes for a challenging but worthwhile experience", writes Linda M. Kaufmann, Massachusetts Coll. of Liberal Arts, North Adams.
With "On the Road to Babadag", Stasiuk has ostensibly written a travel book, but calling it that would be a diminishment. Sure, there are the requisite passages about lush landscapes, anecdotes about unusual people met along the way, accounts of the generosity of strangers and miscommunications on trains and buses. Yet the book stretches far beyond the confines of its genre. Its scope is massive, covering philosophy and history, literature and politics.
- JessCrispin for National Public Radio, June 2011
In the UK the book was just as well-received, with James Hopkin reveling in Stasiuk's propensity for "haunting" those strange realm of Eastern European borderlands and valuing legend over historical record. Hopkin writes,
Stasiuk's prose is quietly effective. His back-of-a-fag-packet poetry merges nicely with his romanticism, his yearning for a melancholy pastoral in which workers are "fashioned from the earth", and for places in Hungary or Romania where everything that could happen has already happened, leaving "villages that resemble muddy turtle shells lying in a depression". He's good, too, on the poetry of name and place, frequently listing tongue-teasing villages, and thus following "the path of fairy tale in which the sound and music of words mattered more than their meaning".
Stasiuk is an award-winning contemporary Polish author of fiction, literary criticism, and poetry.
On the Road to Babadag / Jadąc do Babadag was originally published in Polish in 2004. Published in the United States by Harcourt Brace Publishing and in the United Kingdom the translation is published by Harvill / Secker. Translated by Michael Kandel.
On the Road to Babadag has been translated into 16 languages.