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Molvania: A Land Untouched By Modern Dentistry (Jetlag Travel Guide) Paperback – September 2, 2004


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: The Overlook Press (September 2, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1585676195
  • ISBN-13: 978-1585676194
  • Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 5.1 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #477,582 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From The New Yorker

The Republic of Molvanîa, known as the birthplace of whooping cough and the Molvanîan Sneezing Hound, has been largely ignored by the backpacking set in its sweep through post-Communist Europe. This may have something to do with the country's miserable landscape, miserable weather, miserable food, and miserable, surly populace; on the other hand, it may have something to do with the fact that Molvanîa doesn't exist. In format and page layout, this inspired send-up of a travel guide looks exactly like the real thing, and it displays an acute feel for all the clichés of the genre, including testimonials that instruct how to have an uncomfortable "authentic" experience, rather than a "bland, westernized" one. The nation's new national anthem is set to the tune of "What a Feeling," from the movie "Flashdance" useful phrases include the Molvanîan for "Please," "Thank you," "May God send you a sturdy donkey," and "What is that smell?"
Copyright © 2005 The New Yorker

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Customer Reviews

Simply said, I was reading this book in public, and was laughing so hard I started to cry.
R. Evans
Brilliant parody... particularly for anyone who's travelled around eastern europe with only their Lonely Planet as their guide in a country.
C. Beck
In fact just what you would expect to see in any travel guide and this is why I think the book is just stunning, it looks so convincing.
Robin Benson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Ed Uyeshima HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on October 3, 2004
Format: Paperback
I would have never thought those comprehensive Lonely Planet guides would be ripe for parody. However, this book is hilarious, an observant mock-guidebook to a fictitious Eastern European country named Molvania, which sounds like a cross between the Marx Brothers' Freedonia from "Duck Soup" and the duchy of Grand Fenwick from "The Mouse That Roared". So backward is this new backpacker destination that "visitors can share a glass of locally brewed zeerstum (garlic brandy) while watching a traditionally dressed peasant labourer beat his mule". Sadly the country suffers from "bleak post-war cities and deforested hills", but at least the adventurous traveler can revel in the capital city of Lutenblag, where one can enjoy a traditional Molvanian puppet show or use the particularly unique female urinals installed all around town. Surely any book that provides the complete list of asbestos-free restaurants has to be considered essential preparation reading.

What I enjoy most about this book isn't so much the imaginative and rather sadly destitute world the co-authors created, but the way they capture the condescending tone that mimics accurately the smugly conveyed expertise of the writers behind the Lonely Planet and Rough Guide books. For example, in explaining the complexity of the Molvanian language, the co-authors state in pseudo-helpful prose: "There are four genders: male, female, neutral, and the collective noun for cheeses, which occupies a nominative sub-section of its very own. The language also contains numerous irregular verbs, archaic phrases, words of multiple meaning and several phonetic sounds linguists suspect could represent either a rare dialect or merely peasants clearing their throat." Priceless stuff here.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Zladko Kravcarz on August 30, 2006
Format: Paperback
As a Molvanian native, I thought at first that this is yet another one of those soulless Western monographs, good only to patronize and condescend to the locals.
Imagine my surprise then when, on close scrutiny, I found how the team at JETLAG has managed to compile an accurate and actually useful guide, an opus that will serve well all travelers, past and future, to Molvania and beyond. I find that the maps especially are a treat in their accuracy and detail, especially considering that you cannot buy maps in Molvania proper. Details of cuisine and local customs are also accurately captured, and their flavor stays with you even longer than the hangover.
There is one omission in this travel guide, however, one that I hope will be addressed in future editions: a section addressing the needs of business travelers is sorely lacking, and visiting business persons will find that they need all the help they can get while transacting their affairs with Molvanian tycoons.
Otherwise, a well deserved five stars - especially that hey have used my picture for the book cover.

PS - To all Molvanians and neighboring natives who have spoken negatively on this one: please lighten up, this is a fine read (two minutes at a time), one of the best jokes related to that part of the world, enjoy it!
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34 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Robert I. Hedges HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on July 21, 2005
Format: Paperback
"Kyunkasko sbazko byusba?" tops the list of useful phrases in this well-conceived parody of overly stuffy travel guides (like Fodor's), and, of course, translates into "Where is the toilet paper?" The book is essentially a realistic looking satire of real-world travel guides and carries the joke to the extremes of realism including fake maps, photographs (real, yet surreal), phrases, lists of eateries and hotels, etc.

The guide details such attractions as the "Museum of Medieval Dentistry" (Muszm Dentjk Medjvl), which features a 150 minute presentation on Inflammatory Gum Disease. Details like that and the fact that the Molvanian diet is largely based on parsnips and pickled herring contribute to the faux-authenticity of this book, which is further aided by the realistic "Jetlag Travel Guide" binding.

At least one reviewer took offense that this book mocked Eastern Europe, but I don't agree: the book specifically invented a fictional country to avoid ridiculing a real nation. There is certainly no mistake that Eastern Europe is economically behind the west, but given that this book was clearly written as satire, I think in general that a reader would have to be unusually sensitive to be truly offended by this work; I agree with noted travel author Bill Bryson: "this book is brilliantly original and very, very funny." The book is a bit redundant and lengthy, which are the main detractors, in my view. It is a "one joke" book, but it is a good joke, and a very well executed one at that.
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40 of 47 people found the following review helpful By Mike Garrison on November 9, 2004
Format: Paperback
Yes, this is a one-joke parody. It's not so much what they say but how they say it. It is a brilliant parody of travel guides. However, just like a real travel guide, it quickly becomes boring to linearly read through. The best way to read it is just pick it up and open it to a random page. Read a few pages and then set it aside while you are still chuckling.
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32 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Robin Benson on August 31, 2004
Format: Paperback
The three authors have created a brilliant parody of those travel books that always have a slightly optimistic edge to the copy despite the country they are writing about possibly being a bit of a third-rate dump. The contents follow the usual format, a brief survey of Molvanian history, geography, culture, food and drink, theatre and the arts, how to get there etc, etc and as this is Molvania there are some useful words on crime and ATMs.

The rest of the book is devoted to a full description of the five regions with information about the main towns, hotels, where to eat and what to see. In fact just what you would expect to see in any travel guide and this is why I think the book is just stunning, it looks so convincing. The attention to detail has paid off, with little colour code squares on the edge of each page, central area street maps of each town, hotel references (with those little symbols for bed, phone, karaoke or toxic spa) the use of bold type in the text to emphasise things to see or do, color panels with Traveller's Tips, dozens of photos obviously carefully chosen to depict negative aspects of the country and at the back an index, a detailed map of Molvania and a map of the capital (Lutenblag) transport system. It just looks so real and I think it is a tribute to the authors that they have managed to keep the parody text credible to the last page.
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