Stalin's Nose: Across the Face of Europe

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9780002158718: Stalin's Nose: Across the Face of Europe

Rory MacLean's uncle was a Soviet spy, his aunt a faded Austrian aristocrat. They lived in furious, frustrated retirement in a rambling house filled with animals in Potsdam, Prussia's Versailles. In their youth they stole secrets from Stalin and changed history. He visited them briefly as he passed through Berlin en route from the Baltic to the Black Sea. He was travelling along the line of the old Iron Curtain, writing about the Eastern European revolutions. But his aunt, a vivacious eccentric, would not be left behind. In her rattling Trabant, accompanied by her pet pig, they moved across the continent, following the threads of memory. Her remarkable East European relations - the angel of Prague, a Hungarian grave digger, a dying Romanian propagandist - help tie together the loose ends of her life. They picknicked at Auschwitz, they met Lenin's embalmer and they visited an improverished Czech town. This book is a documentary of their journey and a history of Eastern Europe. Its portrayal of subjugated peoples at a time of great change, of their fears of the past and hopes for the future, illustrates the icy comedy of human existence.

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From the Back Cover:

Winston the pig fell into Aunt Zita's life when he dropped onto her husband's head and killed him dead. It was a distressing end to a distinguished life of spying for the U.S.S.R. After the funeral Zita, a faded Austrian aristocrat and vivacious eccentric, refuses to remain at home in East Germany. Instead she hijacks her nephew Rory and, with Winston in tow, sets out on one last ride. Austrians have extended families, their lineage is Europe's history and Zita has decided to rediscover hers. In a rattling Trabant the threesome puff and wheeze across the continent, following the threads of memory Zita's remarkable east European relations - the angel of Prague, the Hungarian grave digger who had buried Stalin's nose, a dying Romanian propagandist - help tie together the loose ends of her life. The travelers picnic at Auschwitz. They meet Lenin's embalmer. They visit the impoverished Czech town where the sewers run with jewels. Everywhere they learn what life had truly been like under totalitarian rule. They hear a torrent of life tales, some heartbreaking, some hilarious, all enriched with the joy of telling after decades of enforced silence. Humorous and black, touched with the surreal and the farcical, Stalin's Nose is a true and exceptionally vivid story of a journey from the Baltic to the Black Sea, between Berlin and Moscow, through an eastern Europe divested of fear and free to face the past.

About the Author:

Rory Maclean was born and educated in Canada. His book include best-sellers Stalin's Nose and Under the Dragon, He has won the Yorkshire Post Best First Work prize and an Arts Council Writers' Award, was twice shortlisted for the Thomas Cook/Daily Telegraph Travel Book Prize and was nominated for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary award. Born and educated in Canada, he lives with his family in Dorset.

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Published by HarperCollins Publishers Ltd (1992)
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