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Never Mind the Balkans, Here's Romania
 
 

Never Mind the Balkans, Here's Romania [Kindle Edition]

Mike Ormsby
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)

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Product Description

Product Description

These ironic but affectionate short stories, about ordinary people in often-extraordinary circumstances, have earned glowing reviews from Romania’s literary critics and general readers. Some dubbed the author ‘our British Caragiale’, after the 19th century playwright and satirist. The collection - funny and bittersweet – has become a cult read among Romaniaphiles, Romanians and the uninitiated, around the world. The book offers tragi-comic glimpses of this irresistible, dynamic and enthralling country, where locals say, "Ca la noi, la nimeni: there’s nobody quite like us.” That’s neither a boast nor a confession, just a fact, and Ormsby’s colourful characters will entertain, educate and enrage. It depends who is reading.

Mike Ormsby is a writer and former BBC journalist/World Service trainer.

About the Author

Mike Ormsby was born in Ormskirk, England in 1959. His short story collection 'Never Mind the Balkans, Here's Romania' was first published in 2008 by Editura Compania. The Romanian version 'Grand Bazar Romania' was published simultaneously. 'Spinner the Winner', his picture-book for children, about a wind turbine, was published in 2012 (Amazon/Createspace). Mike's screenplay 'Hey, Mr DJ' was filmed in Kigali in 2007 and topped the bill at Rwanda's first Hillywood Film Festival. His short script 'Enfants Dits Sorciers' was filmed in Kinshasa in 2002. Mike is a former BBC journalist and World Service trainer. He and his wife Angela Nicoara are based in Transylvania, where they have lived for 500 years.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 412 KB
  • Print Length: 318 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1477465367
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Mike Ormsby; 2 edition (1 Jun 2008)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B008EVCY4W
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #64,305 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Mike Ormsby was born in Ormskirk, England in 1959. His first novel, 'Child Witch Kinshasa' (2013), was a best seller in African Literature (Amazon UK) a few days after publication. His short story collection 'Never Mind the Balkans, Here's Romania' (2008) prompted Romanian critics to dub him 'our British Caragiale', after their beloved Victorian-era satirist.

'Spinner the Winner' (2012), his book for children, has been translated into French, Serbian, Spanish and Romanian. Mike's screenplay 'Hey, Mr DJ' (2007) was filmed in Kigali and topped the bill at Rwanda's inaugural Hillywood Film Festival. His script 'Enfants dits Sorciers' was filmed in Kinshasa (2002). Mike is a former BBC journalist/World Service trainer. He is based in Azerbaijan, working on his next book and blogging for Radio Free Europe. Home is a mountain village in Transylvania, where he and his wife Angela Nicoara have lived for 500 years.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
Dear Mike,

I first read your book three weeks ago, and ever since, I've been asking myself: how would this have been received, if written by a Romanian? You are assertive without being aggressive, witty with a keen appreciation of human nature.

It is flattering to have been 'adopted' by a Brit when he shows our good side, but, since he also - and mostly - shows our bad side, it is not quite so flattering. I guess, you have chosen to live in our slowly evolving country, a wonderland held back by its own stubbornness?

You breathe the same air as we do, travel on our infernal roads - even on holiday - and the sight of our mountains gives you the same intense pleasure as it does us. Are you not the fellow who goes jogging around our Parliament, among the stray dogs, the one with friends among ordinary people?

However, perhaps you are also the person paying his bill at the next counter or walking upstairs in the National Opera, or browsing the galleries at the National Museum of Art, or the one at the next table on the terrace, with the notebook?

Psssst! Watch out, fellow Romanians! Mike is observing us, he is having fun, he is correcting us, but he is never offensive. I wonder when will we learn some good manners: Please, may I? Thank you! I am so sorry...

For all of this, thank you, Mike, and please consider me as a subscriber to your next 100 titles.

Liana Petrescu
Bucharest
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Half humour, half insight 1 Aug 2009
Format:Paperback
Any "foreign land" is likely to contain puzzles for the visitor. Part of the challenge is to meet and understand those puzzles with humour and understanding. Mike's effort to do this for Romania succeeds with panache. This is not political science, nor is it Lonely Planet. It won't open any deep psychic doors into the Romanian soul for people who already have some experience with the country. But visitors forewarned and forearmed by a dose of Ormsby will later find themselves constantly thinking "oh, yeah, Mike noticed that too, heh heh." Well worth a gander!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Balance in a black and white world 4 Aug 2009
Format:Paperback
I have lived in and out of Bucharest for a few years and 'Never Mind the Balkans' was lent to me by a Romanian friend of mine, enthusiastically. The country and its people are not easy for us foreigners to read and our reactions to life in Bucharest naturally vary, from one extreme to the other. For me, I found the tales in this book well told, with humour; they appealed and rang true. Clearly not everyone would agree, but Mike Ormsby balances the travel guide type works with a sympathetic and human approach to describing life and people in the country. The book was well reviewed by Romanians which must be a solid recommendation for visitors who want a little more than the usual travel literature.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Never mind the Balkans, this is a good read 5 Aug 2009
Format:Paperback
Let's be honest, this travelogue tells us as much about Mike as it does about Romanians. But why not? It's his book, and it's his fascinating journey through Romanian geography and culture, told with warmth and hope. And while sometimes you might want to grab him by the lapels and wise him up to how the system works (Mike, you've been here x years now, don't you KNOW the game?), you have to admire Mike's adherence to the code of right. And he's a brave and resilient guy, never copping out and taking the easy way (which is what most Brits would do). Which is why I love the writer and I love the book and I'm glad that crim used his fist on Mike and not a knife.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Crisp and stinging humor 9 Mar 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Well, reading this book did remind me why I would like to see changes happening into our Romanian society. I am not expecting it to become "westernized" all of a sudden, but a touch of cleanliness in spirit as well as habits, will surely do us some good.
We are BALKANS, that's undoubtful, but hey, we need to wake up and become more civil, to care more about the one next to us and to really appreciate what we have.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely Hilarious 4 Aug 2009
Format:Paperback
Having only been to Romania once, I picked up this book in a Bucharest bookshop on my last day in the country and once I started reading it, couldn't put it down. Everything Mike mentions here, is absolutely spot on, and the funny little things that make Romaina what it is, are highlighted here in easily readable and hugely fitting, not to mention totally hilarious chapters. From the crazy taxi's, to the Strange 'Home Made Wine' to the absurdly inept beaurocracy - Mike nails everything to a Tee. Thanks for such a great book and i will now have a more dynamic view of Romania on my next visit.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a great book 3 Aug 2009
Format:Paperback
I loved this book. An anecdotal review of life in Romania from the perspective of an englishman with typically dry humour. I really got the impression that the author thrives in the chaotic nature of where he is, and is able to communicate this brilliantly in his book. Jogging, one of the earlier stories was espeically entertaining and I think that anyone spending a little bit of time in Romania would be able to identify with this read. Highly recommended, a great read and I was laughing from beginning to end.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sometimes painful, often realistic 2 Aug 2009
Format:Paperback
I hugely enjoyed reading this book. Throughout impressionistic-styled short stories, the author gives what is a surprisingly realistic account of modern days Romania - matching my own personal experience of the country. Sure, one is entitled to read through Mr Ormsby's own nightmares in filigran of the book but gess what? This is a travel story, not a balance sheet. If you like books by Paul Theroux, you will enjoy this one - same apparent cynicism covering love for the country visited. And YES, Romanians drive like maniacs, and not only taxi drivers.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Largely enjoyable, easy going holiday read
Purchased this book among to accompany a week in Bucharest and Transylvania. An enjoyable, non demanding read that offers numerous insights into Romania and its people by means of... Read more
Published 15 days ago by BM
5.0 out of 5 stars Love-Hate Letters from Bucharest
I really enjoyed this book, which was the first I've come across which tells you so vividly what it's like to live your daily life in Romania. Read more
Published 2 months ago by berlin
5.0 out of 5 stars A unique insight into a unique country
Not many people know much about Romania. They should and Mike Ormsby does a tremendous job in a number of short stories about life in that country. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Malcolm Kennedy
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable read
Short anecdotes from life in Romania. Every short chapter is an entertaining tale about some character the author has met or fragment of daily life.. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Charles
2.0 out of 5 stars Deeply depressing
Well written, which makes the book's impact greater. As writing, I'd grade it and, I fear, its insight into Romania pretty high. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Simontr
4.0 out of 5 stars 'Never Mind the Balkans, Here's Romania' review
The thing that makes this book so enjoyable is the sense of two strong personalities meeting: Mike Ormsby's, and Romania's. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Nick Hunt
3.0 out of 5 stars Don't know what to say.
I had trouble giving this book a rating. I hated it but not because it's a bad book or is badly written because it isn't. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Barry
5.0 out of 5 stars The Filth and the Fury
In your Hollywood history of Romania, you'd probably end it with * that * Caucescu helicopter moment in 1989, as democracy rolls into town and everybody lives happily ever... Read more
Published 8 months ago by nickr
1.0 out of 5 stars Pointless, ambiguous, patronising...
First of all I must say I was quite excited when I saw this book. I thought that I finally found a nice, humorous collection of short stories illustrating Romania, my home country. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Mrs N.
5.0 out of 5 stars Fun read that sums up Romania's quirks
I read this book whilst on holiday having recently returned from Romania.

Loved the short stories that truly shows the things that makes Romania stand out from the rest... Read more
Published 10 months ago by MR S POCKLINGTON
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