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

Mike Ormsby
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $11.99
Kindle Price: $3.99
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Book 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.


Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Mike Ormsby was born in Ormskirk, England, 1959. His popular short story collection 'Never Mind the Balkans, Here's Romania' was first published in 2008 (Editura Compania), and earned him the tag 'the British Caragiale'. Mike is a former BBC journalist and World Service trainer. His illustrated book for children, 'Spinner the Winner', about a brave but squeaky wind turbine, was published in 2012. His screenplay 'Hey Mr DJ' was filmed and released 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 and his wife Angela Nicoara are based in Transylvania, where they have lived for 500 years

Product Details

  • File Size: 412 KB
  • Print Length: 318 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1477465367
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Mike Ormsby; 2 edition (June 1, 2008)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B008EVCY4W
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #186,793 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition
Never Mind The Balkans is a comic, absurd, but telling portrait of a country teeming with contradictions. Ormsby is a useful guide. I gather he is married into the country, as it were, but he is also a journalist and uses his skills of observation to sketch out Romania's current state. Ormsby's playful style suits the material as Romania today can only be accepted and loved with a dose of good humour. If you are planning on visiting the country or just want to be an armchair traveler, I recommend it, especially as much else written about the country in English is outdated.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I was intrigued by the title, coming from a Balkan country, and somebody compared the writer to Bill Bryson (whose books I love), so I had to read it. And I wasn’t disappointed, I laughed a lot and could place each of the stories in my own country, Bosnia. Particularly amusing are the stories describing old-fashioned services, like in the post office, with which we are all stuck (as long as it’s happening to someone else).
These are not sugar-coated stories, it is how it is, though I’m guessing inexperienced foreigners might suspect some exaggeration.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nothing to do with the Balkans November 29, 2013
By John
Format:Kindle Edition
I bought this book based on the title, and the thought that crossed my mind was “What, there will be a civil war in Romania? Will Romania break down like Yugoslavia?” No, it won’t.
I’ll have to say that the book is fascinating, entertaining, and well written. It attracted me back to it to read it all. As an expatriate, at first, I was upset by what he wrote about Romanians’ behavior, but sadly I could not disagree. Some Romanians behave that way, however they have good harts. Also this book is written from the point of view of a Brit, from a Western culture point of view versus a Central European culture tormented by history and ravaged by Communism. And it may be difficult for Westerners to understand how people of a country behave shortly after they were liberated from the Communist concentration camp that Romania used to be. This book does not explain why Romanians may behave that way. Overnight the people experience freedom, no rules, and no police repression. They were deprived of goods under communism, and now the stores are loaded with goods just like in a Western country. An entire population feels as if they are in a free fall. They don’t understand market economy, they don’t understand democracy and how politics work, and they don’t understand that every individual is responsible for their own betterment, not the State. The religious and moral boundaries of the past have been destroyed by communism as well.
Should that be an excuse? No. The individuals who learned fast got ahead and became rich, others are struggling just like in the West. The unscrupulous got in the politics and stole all they could. And it will take at least two generations for Romanians to relearn the old civilized values, and to adapt to a free economy, and democracy.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Open Letter to Mike Ormsby from a Romanian reader July 30, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
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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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Book July 3, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
Romania has changed since the author began writing about it, but so many of the stories are timeless and instantly recognizable to anyone who has ever lived in the country. Never Mind the Balkans is a great, fun and informative read.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bittersweet, bite-sized truths March 12, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Mr. Ormsby's stories speak of a Romania that, as locals, we usually try to hide under the rug. He brings up stealing, corruption, irresponsibility, the exaggerated "laissez-faire" attitude and its cousin "if it ain't broken, don't fix it". What I like is that the book doesn't launch itself into a big philosophical discussion, but rather recounts some moments and lets the reader draw his own conclusion. The style is rather lively and very easy to read, although it gets quite predictable at some points. I do wish there were some stories showing it's not all dark, but nobody asked the author to be a PR specialist for my country.
Definitely check it out, especially if you can't quite understand why Romanians are cynical and defeatist.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Loved it. Short evocative snapshots of Romania.
Published 22 days ago by Kathleen M Dan
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice collection of short
Nice collection of short, comic stories that offer glimpses of culture and behavior, not necessarily true or flattering. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Chris
1.0 out of 5 stars Biased writing
Never in my life I have read a book so full of contempt and loath of the subject. What a pity. Because Romania has so many good things to show and to offer. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Rudite
3.0 out of 5 stars Sometimes funny
This was a series of shot stories about an ex-pat's experiences in Romania. Most were very short and tried to make a point about the culture. Read more
Published 2 months ago by DC
1.0 out of 5 stars in my opinion, NOT EVEN CLOSE
I have been to Romania 9 or 10 times most of this gentleman's opinions are just that opinions. I have not seen of what this gentleman describes of Romania. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Brian M. Drouillard
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding read
I read Mr. Ormsby's book during a two-week romp through Romania. I was able to see things I might not have otherwise noticed (or understood) thanks to his perspectives and... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Kelly Buck
4.0 out of 5 stars adventures in Romania told by an Englishman
At first I thought I wouldn't like this book - it's a book of very short stories about small events in the author's life. At first the stories annoyed me since they have no ending. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Meg
5.0 out of 5 stars Insightful, funny, easy to read book about Romania
The book contains a collection of short stories about the author’s sometimes funny, sometimes absurd experiences while living in Romania. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Carmen Stanila
1.0 out of 5 stars The dark humor in this book was not to my taste
This is terrible and painful to read. The incidents may or may not be true but I have better reading to do
Published 4 months ago by nepatiotgalinfl
5.0 out of 5 stars Good writing
An easy to read book, with short, sensible stories about life in Romania after the 90s, from the perspective of a Western. Read more
Published 5 months ago by olgaananie
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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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