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

Mike Ormsby
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $11.99
Kindle Price: $3.99
You Save: $8.00 (67%)
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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: #48,886 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 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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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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By Morana
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is not your typical rosy, over-the-top positive book - these short stories describe an expat's life in a country that is often filled with misunderstandings and frustration, but you can still feel the author's deep affection for Romania and Romanians.

The stories are witty, and if dry humour is your thing, you will enjoy this book. My husband and I, with our two dogs, lived for few years in neighbouring Moldova, even managed to learn some basic Romanian. We used to do frequent road trips across Romanian and we both fell in love with the country - with the mountains, with people there who were friendly, but not overly servile, and could stand their ground. I recognised all of that in this book, it reminded it me of everything that made Romania so special too me.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A lovely book about a lovely place October 21, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
In the Romanian version of the creation myth God creates the earth and starts assigning different people to different lands, but realizes suddenly that one land has every natural resource and would dominate the world. "I know", says God, "I will give it to the Romanians, because they would never manage to conquer the world."

"Never mind the Balkans, here's Romania" is a wonderful book that brought back many happy memories of the two years that I and my family spent in Romania from 1994-1996. I read the book cover to cover the minute it arrived, and couldn't put it down. In fact I read many of the stories outloud to my family. Romania and the Romanians are wonderful, but yet at times maddening. Romanian humor is itself often self-deprecating, and Mike Ormsby conveys just that gentle, loving sort of humor in portraying Romania.

You will love Romania, and you will love this book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fresh Look September 8, 2013
By derp
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
As someone who just recently moved to Bucharest and has been trying to find out about its recent history and culture, I found this book amazing. It was one of those books I couldn't put down. By the end of this book the reader has an excellent picture of what life was like in the early days of Romania after it entered the EU. His style of writing was very poignant, yet never dry or boring. It was often quite hilarious. I'd really recommend this book for anyone interested in Romania or the Balkans.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 3 in 1 August 24, 2013
By Nick
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book works incredibly well on three very different levels. Firstly, it's (in my opinion) a balanced and accurate description of Romania, from an outsider's perspective, at a particular point in its history. Yes, I agree with some of the other reviewers that many things have changed here since it was written but much of the book still feels very familiar to me (I've lived here 10 years). Secondly, he offers an approach to living here as an expat: make an effort learn the language and use it to see Romania through the eyes of local people. Mike's conversations with hotel bar staff and his apartment block's committee, for example, clearly adds a richness to his understanding of Romania that many foreigners sadly miss out on. His love for this country does not come from wearing rose tinted glasses but from a deep and honest appreciation of its people, its rich culture and its often breathtaking geography. Finally, this is simply excellent travel writing and a joy to read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful read July 1, 2012
By EssBee
Format:Kindle Edition
Gentle, funny, glimpsed portraits of Romania reminiscent of Raymond Carver at his best. You don't need any particular interest in the Balkans to enjoy these nuanced short stories.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
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 9 days ago by olgaananie
1.0 out of 5 stars I am sorry to have spent money on it
Well, I personally have never read something so full of disgust and loathing about my country before. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Mihaela
4.0 out of 5 stars Nothing to do with the Balkans
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? Read more
Published 4 months ago by Dumitru Sandru
4.0 out of 5 stars Nothing to do with the Balkans
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? Read more
Published 4 months ago by John
2.0 out of 5 stars Bitter and sour
The author has a chip on his shoulder. Every single experience the author had described in book has a negative turn, done purposely. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Petric
5.0 out of 5 stars great!
One of the best books about Romania, written by someone with lots of inside knowledge. An absolute must read, I tell you!
Published 7 months ago by Lucian Stanescu
2.0 out of 5 stars A bitter read...
I appreciate what the author is trying to get across; that there are many rough edges, even dangerous sides to life in Romania. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Mike McGill
1.0 out of 5 stars Useless book
Lived in that country for a while and noticed some of the aspects in the book, but most of them are just shown in bad heart. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Flors
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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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