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East In Eden Paperback – April 6, 2015
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The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
"A comprehensive yet unintimidating, both comic and insightful, covers a wide array of interesting topics, from New Zealand's history, climate, natural wonders, real estate, cuisine, traffic, unique customs, awkward birds, plumbing.
Compelling and candid writing style, rich with factual information, personal investment, and humor. Sincere observations, delivered alongside playfully caustic criticisms and episodes of extreme culture shock.
With plenty to fuel both laughter and learning, 'East in Eden' is fun-filled and fulfilling and will carry you on a one-of-a-kind journey."
Red City Review
Top customer reviews
The narrative thrives on the comedy of random circumstances, cultural misunderstandings, and personality clashes. The point of view of the luckless immigrant is both disarmingly honest and deceptively naïve. The author sees her country of origin and her adoptive country from a distance that allows her to mix nostalgia with the excitement of new discovery, to overcome stereotype, and to grow into her new-found perspective as a Kiwi. Like a true Kiwi, she loves to talk about the weather and has an endless reserve of powerful images of unique or mundane natural phenomena. New Zealand weather is also a source of numerous comical mishaps because the author chooses to visit tourist attractions on a whim, in the off season and in inclement weather, even during a tropical cyclone.
The thrill of exploration, fueled with the occasional adrenaline boost of extreme tourism, moves the narrative at a brisk pace. The author, against her better judgment, goes jet-skiing, zorbing, sledging, and blackwater rafting. She rides on a bus over the ocean bed at low tide, slides down sand dunes, drives over rollercoaster mountainous roads, climbs a glacier, swims with dolphins. All these feats are narrated with the self-deprecating humor of the reluctant adventurer, but also with the sharp intellect of the professional engineer.
East in Eden began as a series of letters the author sent to Bulgaria from New Zealand. It then grew into an eagerly followed online blog and eventually resulted in a successful print collection, published in Bulgarian and enhanced with informative chapters on Kiwiana. That accounts for its episodic structure and occasional repetitiveness. The translation authentically captures the rich and evocative prose, while reflecting the author’s struggles to comprehend the English spoken down under. Parenthetical explanations of obscure references have been incorporated for the benefit of the international audience of the English-language edition.
Izabela, born in Bulgaria, describes her adventures and her new life in Aotearoa. I found amazing the way she introduces to the reader this far way mysterious land: you can learn that already built house can be carried away by a big truck driving kilometres and kilometres on the highway; that the Kiwis don't like olives; how to say " A delicious penguin" ("Kororareka") in Maorian; how to cook an artichoke...
The entire book is full of a pretty larky sens of humour.
I wish you to read it.
The author sounds like a chronic complainer, as she complained about absolutely everything about NZ, even the birdsong!
The way she describes things there, no one in their right mind would even want to visit such a place.
Wish I had requested a refund before my 7 days were up!
Do not recommend this book to anyone who has fond feelings for New Zealand!
I loved this book! I had little knowledge of New Zealand, could barely spell it, but as a travelogue-a-holic and armchair world traveler, I was really interested to read her account of being from Bulgaria and living in New Zealand with her family.
Laughing through the pages, I loved learning about the amazing people, landscapes and her day trips. Also the adjustments and differences she encountered as a Bulgarian in a new land. It reminded me of the differences I faced moving from Florida to Connecticut.
Some beautiful, some funny observations about life in New Zealand she reveals:
“Stress is an unfamiliar phenomenon, except for perhaps just some residents of Auckland…”
“Every citizen is expected to engage in a voluntary action for the common good and most people do, without fuss or expectations for recognition, with a sense of moral duty and the simplest human compassion for suffering and the downtrodden.” She says like there are newspaper listings asking for volunteers at the library or care for old people, even lifeguards at the beach and firefighters are volunteers.
“Most New Zealanders think olives are disgusting…”
Her description of their trip to Ninety Mile Beach was so vivid, I felt like I was bumping along the beach in the tour bus with her family. She tells about the tour bus that drives on the “flat wet sands of Ninety Mile Beach” and how it is important to have “a really experienced driver who knows all the potentially dangerous places and how to avoid them. The tide comes up here very quickly.” Further down she says, “Any car breaking down on Ninety Mile Beach stays there forever.”
I laughed out loud at her description of flying down a giant sand dune on a “sledge” (tray), just in front of her scared, but determined daughter.
Those are just a few examples from the first third of her book. Story after story she builds my admiration for her adventurous spirit and tenacity.
As if her wonderful stories weren't enough, in the back of the book there's a couple of pages on New Zealand movies, another couple on famous New Zealanders, also handy New Zealand websites and New Zealand recipes.
You’ll LOVE this book. Izabela Shopova is hilariously funny and amazingly adventurous – reminiscent of Lucille Ball in her bravado and humor.