Book review: “Mission London” by Alek Popov

I have just finished the book “Mission London” by the Bulgarian writer Alek Popov.Mission London I was expecting the book to be fun and was not disappointed at first. But when the stereotypical characters (that seems almost obligatory when it comes to describing Eastern Europeans) starts arriving one after one; power crazy diplomat/boss/politician, girl who work as a strip tease, hardened ruthless criminal, a dead female body, I become somewhat down stricken. However, I keep reading and the plot (and the characters to some degree) starts to unfold in ways I’m not expecting. It turns out that it’s not so totally stereotypical after all. Now I think that the book has more depth than I thought at its lowest points. It was fun, interesting and I could easily read an other book like this, and I definitely want to check out the film adaptation.

Below follows an excerpt about the writer, the book and film from the web page:

Alek Popov was born in Sofia, Bulgaria, in 1966.  He graduated from St. Constantine Cyril the Philosopher College for Ancient Languages and Cultures in Sofia and later received his master’s degree in Bulgarian language and literature from the Sofia University. In 1997, he attended the English Language Institute at Wayne State University.

His first novel, Mission London, based on colorful impressions from his time as the cultural attaché at the Bulgarian Embassy in the United Kingdom, was published in 2001. It has been widely acclaimed as “the funniest contemporary Bulgarian book” for its sarcastic projection of the Bulgarian diplomatic elite. So far, it has been translated and published into 15 languages. An English edition of Mission London is forthcoming in the U.K., published by Istros Books (April, 2014).

The film Mission London based on the novel was released in 2010 and according to distributors was “a breakthrough phenomenon,” leading the Bulgarian box office for weeks. It became the most frequented Bulgarian movie for the last 20 years. In 2011, it won the Unbribable Award of Transparency International Croatia’s program “Culture against Corruption”.

Read more about at Alek Popov´s own web page:


News: Communist Tour of Sofia

Free Sofia Tour offers: The 365: Communist Tour of Sofia
11 May 2015

This year the 365 Association, which stands behind the Free Tours of Sofia and Plovdiv, is launching two new and exciting projects: the Communist Tour and Culture Tour.

The idea behind starting a Communist Tour actually arose out of the experience of our guides doing the Free Sofia Tour. On many occasions our guests show a deeper interest in the topic and have asked about what it was like in Bulgaria during that period, wanting to learn more about the story of our side of the Cold War.

The Cold War is, of course, something that practically affected the whole world in the previous century. It has been over 25 years since communism officially disappeared in Europe, so memories are already starting to fade away or get distorted. At the same time, most people still have strong opinions on the topic, so if you just talk to a local about it, you are likely to hear radically different stories, depending on who you are talking to. Because of this, we decided we must satisfy the demand and offer a walking tour through the main sites of the era, covering the numerous different aspects of the period’s specific history and the way they affected the lives of ordinary people in a balanced, non-biased fashion.

The tour takes place three times a week: on Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays, at 4 p.m. at the Palace of Justice, the same place that the Free Sofia Tour starts from. It takes about three to three-and-a-half hours (don’t get scared, there is a short 15-20 minute break) for our guides Dessy, Radina, Nikola, Niki, Martin and Stefan to show you the most important places and tell you the most significant stories of the era. The price is 9 euro per person. However, if you are quick enough you can benefit from the fact that we won’t charge our guests until the end of May.

So, if you remember the Cold War, but are wondering what it was on the other side of the Iron Curtain; if you were on this side of the Iron Curtain, but are interested in the Bulgarian perspective; if you don’t remember the Cold War and were maybe even born after it was already over, but are curious about this period of history that you’ve heard about from your parents and grandparents; if you find having to be included in a waiting list in order to buy a car and free and universally available healthcare and education equally amusing, you are definitely welcome to visit us!

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A little about me and the blog…

I'm studying archival science (include records management). My studies bring me to Bulgaria for six months.

I have been to Bulgaria on vacation but I don't know the language, Cyrillic alphabet or anybody. So I´ll be encountering many new situations and hopefully gain some insights from them. Some of it may end up on my blog. But even blogging is new to me sooo we´ll see...

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