April 14th, 2014

рецензия в Wall Street Journal

Just as Moldova enters the international news cycle as the possible target of Russian aggression, we have a rare translated work of Moldovan fiction. In Vladimir Lorchenkov's macabre satire "The Good Life Elsewhere" (New Vessel, 197 pages, $14.99), all Moldovans look upon their landlocked country of "dirt, poverty, a whole lot of lousy nothingness" and conceive an obsession with emigrating to Italy. One daydreamer tries to make it by repurposing a tractor into an airplane. Others hope to smuggle themselves in by posing as the national curling team (they practice on dirt instead of ice). Even a former president, Mr. Lorchenkov suggests, once planned to sneak away from a delegation in Rome and find work in a pizzeria.

In Ross Ufberg's translation from the Russian, the novel chronicles these hapless, often fatal, attempts with an air of bemused resignation. The most spectacular is the First Moldovan Crusade, whipped up by an Eastern Orthodox priest to storm Italy en masse. Here the novel evolves into a sly allegory about entry into the EU. The priest assumes that the Western democracies will greet the striving Moldovans with open arms. "They won't take you," a friend cautions. "Now, if you were to lead a crusade to Russia, they'd support you to the end. But when you're talking about Europe itself, they don't need riffraff like you." Mr. Lorchenkov's farce may not tell us much about life within Moldova, but it entertainingly illuminates the oft-forgotten country's national neuroses