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On the Road to Babadag: Travels in the Other Europe

3.75 of 5 stars 3.75  ·  rating details  ·  569 ratings  ·  37 reviews
Andrzej Stasiuk is a restless and indefatigable traveler. His journeys take him from his native Poland to Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Slovenia, Albania, Moldova, and Ukraine. By car, train, bus, ferry. To small towns and villages with unfamiliar-sounding yet strangely evocative names. “The heart of my Europe,” Stasiuk tells us, “beats in Sokolow, Podlaski, and in Husi, not ...more
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published June 16th 2011 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (first published 2004)
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Community Reviews

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If this photograph by André Kertész takes hold of your thoughts and your imagination, you might understand why Andrzej Stasiuk writes: "It's possible that everything I've written so far began with this photograph...The space of this photograph hypnotizes me, and all my travelling has had only one purpose: to find, at long last, the secret passage into its interior" The strange aspect of this for me is that I, who have never been in Eastern Europe [since I wrote this I have been to Romania, and
I would like to be buried in all those places where I've been before and will be again. My head among the green hills of Zemplén, my heart somewhere in Transylvania, my right hand in Chornohora, my left in Spišská Belá, my sight in Bukovina, my sense of smell in Răşinari, my thoughts perhaps in this neighborhood ... This is how I imagine the night when the current roars in the dark and the thaw wipes away the white stains of snow.
This is the colorful, often poetic prose of a seasoned traveler w
'On the Road to Babadag' won all possible awards in Poland and for a while it was all everybody was reading and talking about. So imagine my disappointment when I started reading it and all I wanted to do was to hurl it against the wall. It’s because I thought this would be a travel book. I thought Stasiuk would leave some small town in Poland and go through Slovakia, Hungary, Ukraine, Moldova, Serbia, Albania, Bulgaria etc. until finally he would reach Babadag, Romania where the book would end. ...more
Lisa Lieberman
A strange little book. Since the author jumped around a lot, I gave myself permission to read it randomly. I was mostly interested in what he experienced in Hungary, so I searched out those sections first, came across a passage, which I will quote in full, because it gets to the quirky loveliness of Stasiuk's writing:
Nothing in Talkibánya, a village that hadn’t changed in a hundred years. Wide, scattered houses under fruit trees. The walls a sulfurous, bilious yellow, the wood carving deep brow
Nov 25, 2011 Elaine rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2011
Seemed like a 10 page essay that became a 250 page book through repetition repetition and repetition. This is a po-mo travel book -- travel without identifying context, just an endless list of Eastern European place names obscure enough to make you feel at first ashamed of your own ignorance and finally simply annoyed at the repeated refusal to communicate anything that would help us place these places. Travel that loses any purpose bc all the places are the same, simply names. The sense of pove ...more
If you enjoy reading about crumbling stucco, peeling paintwork, places forgotten by time and the outside world, the backwaters of Eastern Europe and the Balkans, byways hidden by mist, melancholia, ferries to nowhere, drinking in forlorn bars, decay, the detritus of post-communism, village squares overgrown with untended trees, and sleepy border crossings, then this might be the book for you. All of these things and others dealt with by the Stasiuk, the author, fascinate me, but somehow his book ...more
I would say I finish 95% of the books I start. BUt this one didn't make the cut. I picked it up because it was about the Balkans and Eastern Europe- my favourite places. Furthermore, the overarching theme, the second-hand europe, that is not really Europe; a land that frightens most, that is whispered by Westerners with a certain cautionary the place to travel.
I understand how the writer might have wanted to have written this book in such a confusing manner- because we, Eastern EUrope
Кремена Михайлова
Местата и стилът на Анджей Сташук:

„Октомври е, вали студен нощен дъжд и мога да си представя как мократа тъма удавя села и градове. Лежат на дъното на водите и още нямат имена. Напомнят големи спящи риби с къщи, хора и пътища в коремите. Хората шепнат в мрака, съсредоточени, сгушени един в друг, чакат да мине потопът и се опитват да отгатнат съдната си. Времето още не е напълно започнало, няма светлина и трябва да се чака зората. Мълвите приличат на обещания и легенди. Светът е толкова далечен,
Lorenzo Berardi
There are 167 stamps on Andrzej Stasiuk's passport. Or, at least, there were so many when this book was published. Probably Mr Stasiuk hit 200 stamps in the meantime. And I would be glad if he did, for each of these stamps has a story to tell and the author of "On the Road to Babadag" is the right person to do that.

What you will find here is the perfect combination of the celebrated "Danube" by Claudio Magris with the Eastern Europe travels of "Michael Palin's Europe" recently televised by the B
Hmm... hard to rate this book. Stasiuk is a master of words, has a fluency which I rarely encountered in a descriptive story. Even if his journeys took place in a specific time frame, you get the feeling that all those countries, cities, villages, people are suspended somewhere out of time and reality.
As he said in an interview: "If I go somewhere, I am always drunk. Afterwards I remember too little, sometimes I take pictures. This is why, three quarters from what I write is made up. I make up l
The travel essay parts are quite interesting, but the ... ummm ... reflective parts not so much. Lots and lots of obscure eastern European place names thrown at the reader, making it difficult to tell what country he was talking about, and I'm fairly good at geography! Recommended only for those with a very strong interest in eastern Europe, otherwise this one may well end up on your Did Not Finish pile; I managed to get the end, but there was effort involved at times.
*In any case we passed it in no time, and once again green mountains rose on the horizon, and I immediately felt regret and longing. Exactly as on awakening, when we are spurred by the desire to return to the world of dreams, which relieves us of our freedom of will and gives in its place the freedom, absolute, of the unexpected. This happens in places rarely touched by the traveller's eye. Observation irons out objects and landscapes. Destruction and decline follow. The world gets used up, like ...more
Описувати таку книгу важко, позаяк вона прочиняє двері у море візаульності, яке може видатися чужим людині, не знайомій хоча б побіжно із краями, про які йдеться Авторові. І це, мабуть, і добре, й недобре водночас. Недобре, бо породжує несприйняття, втім, на кожну книгу - свій читач. Схожа на старий альбом вицвілих світлин, "Дорогою на Бабадаґ" уміщує ціле життя, вічну в спекотному полуденні сієсту, коли час нескінченно розтягується, і навіть якщо й діється щось, то насправді врешті-решт нічого ...more
This is a treasure--impressionistic, haunting journeys in the land between the Baltic, Adriatic and Black Seas-Slovakia, Moldavo, Romania, Slovenia, Albania, Bulgaria, Hungary--towns with names in three languages or more--mountains, plains and corn fields--pubs, border crossings, buses, trains and ferries. Stasiuk seeks the edges, the eternal of his Europe.

"It gives me no rest, my wish to know the fate of all these scenes that entered my eyes and have remained in my thoughts. What happens to th
Peter Landau
Reading the densely detailed travelogue ON THE ROAD TO BABADAG: TRAVELS IN THE OTHER EUROPE by Andrzej Stasiuk reminded me of science fiction. It’s exotic and strange as another planet, but those alien landscapes are imagined by earthbound men who project to the stars. Most every space creature shares our basic biology and the climate and topography of those distant lands reflects the deserts or tropics or metropolises that we know. If we were to see something truly unfamiliar we wouldn’t recogn ...more
My favorite travel memoir. Central and Southeastern Europe, wine, cigarettes, dust, train stations, old trucks, forgotten history and the soul of the writer beautifully woven together in an impressionistic narrative.
Evan Rail
"Not so much," as my three-year-old daughter might put it: after many tries, I just can't get into "On the Road to Babadag" and am giving myself the gift of not having to finish it. Like much of Eastern European literature, the writing here is episodic and highly impressionistic, but while that approach might (or might not) work for something like poetry, in a book-length travelogue this kind of writing feels like it is greatly lacking in structure, and — more importantly —depth.

Characters, for
A most wonderful book I never wanted to end. The way I travel, the way I love places, put into lyrically poetic prose like none other I've ever read:

"Clearly I am drawn to decline, decay, to everything that is not as it could or should be. Whatever stops in half stride because it lacks the strength or will or imagination to continue. Whatever gives in, gives up, does not last, and leaves no trace. Whatever in its passing stirs no regret or reminiscence. The present imperfect. Histories that live
Sorin Hadârcă
Andrzei Stasiuk bypasses the big cities and favors the small god forgotten towns of Eastern Europe. He thinks that in nothingness and degradation there are more chances to catch a glimpse of the world as it once was. Built to last is something as absurd here as the Disneyland. I will use his words saying: "An eternal end reigns in this land and the children are being born already tired. In the opaque light of a late autumn, the faces, the bodies and the gestures of the people are more expressive ...more
Barbara McVeigh
Poetic, meditative, and at times piercingly insightful, On the Road to Babadag takes the reader on a trip to the other side of Europe. As one reviewer commented, "On the Road to valuable reading...If we can't read our way around Europe, how will we ever find our place, our identity, within it?" (For the entire review:

Stasiuk describes the hallucinatory aspects of his trips; his writing sometimes follows suit. After awhile, I found I had to
I liked this book. It kind of reminded me of Novakovich's Plum Brandy, but in a different part of the Balkans, primarily Romania. I am glad that a map was provided in the front of the book; I referred to it often, though sometimes I was unable to find places referenced, all of which were previously unknown to me.

"Small countries should be allowed to cut history class. They should be like islands off to the side of the main current of progress." (87)

"What is memory, anyway, if not the endless exc
Helaas is de zomervakantie net voorbij, maar van dit boek kreeg ik spontaan zin om op vakantie te gaan naar Hongarije, Roemenie, Oekraine, Moldavie of ALbanie.
Ik beleefde deze landen alsof ik er echt was, inclusief de geur van koeienvlaaien, zigeuners en kleine verlaten dorpjes. Prachtige verhalen.
Na ostatniej stronie okładki wydawca napisał, że jest to książka podróżnicza przede wszystkim w sensie duchowym. Może i tak, szkoda tylko, że przez język użyty przez autora miałem wrażenie podróżowania z prostakiem. W powieści taki język byłby może ciekawym sposobem kreowania postaci ale w książce podróżniczej (reportażu?) swojej funkcji nie spełnia. No i kogo obchodzą te wszystkie zwierzęce odchody? Podwozie samochodu umazane krowimi gównami, końskie gówna, owcze gówna, droga umazana zieloną sr ...more
Marek Tomalski
Reportaż. Przez pierwsze kilka rozdziałów trzeba przywyknąć do stylu Stasiuka. Później wciąga i może nawet porwać. Podróż jednak bardziej w strumieniu świadomości autora niż wzdłuż, południka Konieczna-Koszyce-Tokaj-Arad-Timiszoara i Skopje. Podróż w „Jadąc do Babadag” jest swoistą ucieczką przed Zachodem, a kraje Europy Środkowej i obrzeży Bałkanów – to kraje, które zachowały swoją specyficzną wartość dzięki zacofaniu.
książkę czytałam na raty, aż w końcu trafiła w dobry moment i dokończyłam ją. Nostalgiczne opisy świata odchodzącego w niepamięć, ale nie przejmującego się tym. Napisana dobrym językiem, wracać do niej można całe życie, bo nie pamięta się treści. Jedyne co zapada w pamięć, to atmosfera melancholii i świat "totalnej rozjebki" w Europie południowo wschodniej.
Nov 10, 2011 !Tæmbuŝu marked it as to-read
Journey diary taking you through the Europe that doesn't exist in tour guides and is thought to be worse and primitive - Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Albania, Slovenia, Moldovia. By car, hitch-hiking, by train. Nice read.
Kinga loved it for the poetry. Maybe I'll try this as a second or third read after more introductory books on the 'Other Europe'.
I did not actually finish the book. I gave up.
It's a brilliantly written book, but just not exactly the kind of story I enjoy, hence the low rating. I'm pretty sure lots of people will find it fascinating :)
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Andrzej Stasiuk is one of the most successful and internationally acclaimed contemporary Polish writers, journalists and literary critics. He is best known for his travel literature and essays that describe the reality of Eastern Europe and its relationship with the West.

After being dismissed from secondary school, Stasiuk dropped out also from a vocational school and drifted aimlessly, became act
More about Andrzej Stasiuk...
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“Sometimes I get up before sunrise to watch the way the dark thins out and objects slowly reveal themselves, the trees, the rest of the landscape. You can hear the river below and roosters in the village. The light of dawn, cold and blue, gradually fills the world, and it's the same in every place I've been.” 11 likes
“Travel is no more than a relatively healthy form of narcotic, after all.” 6 likes
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