Stalin's Nose, across the face of Europe
MacLean, Rory (preface by Colin Thubron)
In Rory MacLean s groundbreaking debut travel book, Winston the pig drops on to Uncle Peter s head and kills him dead. It is a distressing end to a distinguished Soviet spy. Unwilling to be left alone in her house aunt Zita, a faded Austrian aristocrat and a vivacious eccentric, hijacks her nephew and, together with Winston, sets out on one last ride. The Berlin Wall fell only weeks before and Zita is determined to reach across the reopened borders and rediscover her remarkable east European family. In a rattling Trabant the unlikely trio puff and wheeze across the changing continent, following the threads of memory. Zita s relations – the angel of Prague, the Hungarian grave digger who buried Stalin s nose, a dying Romanian propagandist – help tie together the loose ends of her life. They picnic at Auschwitz. They meet Lenin s embalmer. They carry a long-lost corpse over the Carpathian mountains. Their surreal and darkly comic journey becomes Zita s catharsis. Through war and revolution, decay and regeneration, Stalin s Nose is an exhilarating ride from the Baltic to the Black Sea, between Berlin and Moscow, and a portrait of Europe like no other.
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