East in Eden by Izabela Shopova
Have you ever wondered what it’d be like to live in a moist, mossy ecosystem that time seems to have forgotten, where fishing is the thing to do, the locals adorn themselves in seasonally mismatched attire, and straight vodka is an unheard-of concept? If so, East in Eden by Bulgarian author Izabela Shopova is right up your alley. Call it a travelogue, diary of a born nomad, or makeshift social study, this no-holds-barred nonfiction title is a delightfully entertaining first-person account of Shopova’s experiences living in New Zealand for six years with her husband and daughter. A considerably comprehensive yet entirely unintimidating work, it covers a wide array of interesting topics, from New Zealand’s history, climate, government, natural wonders, and real estate market, to its cuisine, traffic patterns, unique customs, awkward national bird, plumbing, and beyond. The chapters feature narratives, both comic and insightful, that recount Shopova’s immersion in detailed hindsight, followed by letters she wrote to others while biding her time in what has been coined the “Last Eden on Earth.” Also included, near the conclusion of Shopova’s personal story, are jokes about the natives; short bios on famous New Zealanders, including celebrated film icons, athletes, and authors; recipes for a variety of palate-pleasing New Zealand dishes; and a list of valuable internet resources pertaining to the country.
Whether you’re preparing for travel abroad, intrigued by different cultures, or simply looking for some good laugh-out-loud anecdotes, this snapshot of an Eastern European lost in Earth’s last Eden is sure to meet your expectations and then some. Shopova’s writing style is quite compelling and candid, and it’s made rich with factual information, personal investment, and humor. Her sincere observations about the land and its people are delivered alongside playfully caustic criticisms of them and episodes of extreme culture shock in response to their behavior and lifestyle choices, as compared to the way of life in the rest of the Western World and, in particular, in Eastern Europe. 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.
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