A Chip Shop in Poznan
Mr B's review
Three months before THAT referendum, Ben Aitken made a contrary decision – to skip out on England and move to Poland; to experience the homeland that the thousands who’d done the opposite had left behind. Through an often hilarious diary-style narrative we explore modern Poland, with many nods to its communist and more distant past. From beaches to farms; from mountains to that chippy, it’s the encounters with the Poles themselves that stand out; and their love of coleslaw.
‘One of the funniest books of the year’ – Paul Ross, talkRADIO
WARNING: CONTAINS AN UNLIKELY IMMIGRANT, AN UNSUNG COUNTRY, A BUMPY ROMANCE, SEVERAL SHATTERED PRECONCEPTIONS, TRACES OF INSIGHT, A DOZEN NUNS AND A REFERENDUM.
Not many Brits move to Poland to work in a fish and chip shop.
Fewer still come back wanting to be a Member of the European Parliament.
In 2016 Ben Aitken moved to Poland while he still could. It wasn’t love that took him but curiosity: he wanted to know what the Poles in the UK had left behind. He flew to a place he’d never heard of and then accepted a job in a chip shop on the minimum wage.
When he wasn’t peeling potatoes he was on the road scratching the country’s surface: he milked cows with a Eurosceptic farmer; missed the bus to Auschwitz; spent Christmas with complete strangers and went to Gdansk to learn how communism got the chop. By the year’s end he had a better sense of what the Poles had turned their backs on – southern mountains, northern beaches, dumplings! – and an uncanny ability to bone cod.
This is a candid, funny and offbeat tale of a year as an unlikely immigrant.
‘One of the funniest books of the year’ — Paul Ross, talkRADIO ‘A fascinating insight … Poland is a zone that has largely been ignored by talented travel writers [and this] is therefore a welcome addition. A captivating and entertaining account.’ * The First News (Poland) * ‘A clever, critical and witty travel book about Poland’ * Polish Cultural Institute * `A fascinating book […] We should know more than we do about Poland, a nation with which we have had centuries of interaction. Ben Aitken’s excellent book is probably the best place to start.’ * The New European * ‘Adeptly balances personal ruminations on love, attraction, and friendship, with cultural evaluations that subvert British stereotypes of Polish citizens […] An engaging romp through Polish culture, with a resonant political message of the importance of interacting with other cultures and preserving our ties with Europe.’ * The London Magazine *
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