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on 23 October 2000
This book made me laugh out loud several times. Petworth is on a cultural exchange visit to the Eastern European country of Slatka at a time of social unease. This is the story of his adventures and fumblings during his stay. Much of the humour is based on the use of language,and in particular the pidgin English used by the natives. A clever, moving, and very funny book, it was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in the early 80s.
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on 23 November 2005
It's a wonderful book. It reminds me of my country - Bulgaria which unfortunately has changed very little since the book has been first published in 1982. Today party aparatchiks are again ruling Bulgaria this time as businessmen and their sons and daughters are again in the government and in the Parliament. It is sad and at the same time very funny story. Sad, because I have seen all this and funny because everything that's far away looks somehow funny especially when it's written in such wonderful way. It is even sadder that in Slaka (Bulgaria) history is repeating itself.
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on 25 January 2016
This was a hard book to get into. It's about an English Lecturer (Angus Petworth) who travels to the 1980s East Bloc capital Slaka to lecture on the internationality of English. While there he struggles with the regimentation, inflexibility of the native's mentality, language issues, paperwork, and general craziness of the eastern communist mentality.

The problem with the book is it's written in the 1980s, and so feels a little dated. In addition, as someone who has lived in China for 6 years (where the regimentation, inflexibility of the native's mentality, language issues, paperwork, and general craziness ARE crazy, but not as crazy as is laid out here -albeit for comic effect), the book feels mean spirited too.
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on 14 January 2014
This tale of a naïve academic on a lecture visit to a fictitious Eastern European country - it could be Czechoslovakia or Bulgaria - was written before the Cold War ended. All the political conformity, all the mystery and secrecy, all the austerity and shortages, its all there, and as I remember it personally in Prague or Sofia as a visitor in the '60s. But its there in an hilarious confusion of language, misunderstandings, clandestine sex and Marxist dogma, with at least a chuckle on every page, as Petworth (Petwurt,Pitwit, etc) is entertained (in more than one sense) by his official and unofficial hosts. I relived some of my own experiences, but this time with brilliant wit and humour.
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on 6 May 2015
Bradbury's classic Cold War comedy evades nitwit cliches to find real and believable people in a tinpot Balkan tyranny
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on 20 December 2013
Hugely funny. My favourite bit involved an overnight Vowel Shift - and the resulting changes in local speech. This appealed especially to me, as the linked product might suggest.

b
When Vowels Get Together
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on 28 February 2014
A modern classic. Echoes of the kinds of social/cultural unrest that is still alive across the world. Both amusing and challenging.
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on 7 January 2016
What a strange book. One I felt I had to read to the end but then wish I hadn't bothered.
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