‘Stalin’s Nose: Across the Face of Europe’

A Tamworth pig, a coffin, two aunts, a battered Trabant and the Berlin Wall. This is a story of the forgotten half of Europe: black, comic, surreal yet painfully real, at once a documentary of a journey and a fantastical narrative.

I made this journey from Berlin to Moscow, through Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland and Romania, only weeks after the fall of the Berlin Wall. It was early 1990 and eastern Europe was in a state of euphoria. Fifty years of totalitarianism – under first the fascists and then the communists – had ended almost overnight. I met people who hadn’t spoken to a foreigner for 50 years – in some countries it had been illegal – and who opened their hearts and told me their stories.

‘Stalin’s Nose’ became a UK Top Ten best-seller and won the Yorkshire Post Best First Work award. It was chosen as a Book of the Year by the ‘Sunday Times’, the ‘Guardian’ and the ‘Independent on Sunday’ and short listed for the Thomas Cook/’Daily Telegraph Travel Book Prize. Alistair McGowen read it on Radio 4’s Book at Bedtime. It’s been translated into Spanish, Italian and Dutch.

‘Stalin’s Nose’ is now republished with a new preface by Colin Thubron.

‘a surreal masterpiece’ – Colin Thubron

‘Crazy, charming, a delight’ – John le Carré

‘The most extraordinary debut in travel writing since “In Patagonia”. A dark, sardonic and brilliant book which grows in stature with every page.’ – William Dalrymple

‘A thing of beauty’ – Jan Morris

See a three minute film on the construction and fall of the Berlin Wall below.

‘Stalin’s Nose’ is republished by Tauris Parke in 2008. It was first published by HarperCollins UK and Canada and Little, Brown USA in 1992, Feltrinelli Traveller Italy in 1993, Mingus Holland in 1994 and Alba Editorial Spain in 2001.