Let's start this week with the bittersweet literary awesomeness.
Mission London has been on my to-read list for years but somehow I never picked it up until a few days ago. Why, I have absolutely no idea but I'm so glad I finally did because it truly would be a shame if I managed to let this one pass me by.
Written by Alek Popov, one of the most important figures on Bulgaria's contemporary literary scene, author of many short stories and scripts but this one was his first novel translated to english language. And I couldn't stop reading it and laughing at the same time.
The action is set in an Eastern European embassy in London. Alek himself worked in the Bulgarian embassy in London in 1997-98. “The background of the book is very real for this reason. I wasn’t intending to write this book actually, but over time the material started accumulating and I felt I must write something about it. There was too much precious material to be lost. It’s the small details that I like, they are completely real.”
Say hello to Varadin Dimitrov, a new Bulgarian ambassador in London who's got an impossible task on his back - arranging the Queen's arrival on the celebratory concert for the Bulgaria’s accession to the EU hosted by the wife of the current Bulgarian prime minister. She is constantly calling him and reminding that he has a favor to return (in other words - you better get the Queen to attend or else) and doesn't accept no for an answer. He pretty much can't stand anyone around him but Katya, who cleans his office but also works as a stripper to pay for her student expenses.
But that is just the beginning.
There's Russian mafia.
Stolen ducks from the royal park that end up in the embassy's fridge.
A very grumpy cook.
A fake queen.
Police hunt for the missing ducks.
A very shady PR agency.
Hillarious history of toilet invention.
And a fake Princess Diana.
But underneath all that, the plot is about, as Popov said "the struggle for representation and for a new image of both the elite and the ordinary citizen. It looks at how ordinary people from Eastern Europe are trying to adapt to the West and be part of a greater Europe, a process which involves the disruption of many illusions. On the other side, it is about perceptions the West has about itself and about Eastern Europe."
In 2010 Mission London has been made into a movie and it was a huge box office hit (in Bulgaria), leaving even Avatar behind. While I was reading the novel, I thought about how pretty much every single page could actually be a movie scene because it's so vividly written and now I simply can't wait to see the film, which judging from the trailer I'm sure I'll enjoy it immensely.
Check it out HERE for yourself and let me know what are your thoughts on it.