What is the best-known book set in Moldova?

See note on methodology

I love Moldova. I’ve been there ten times since 2001, I sing its praises to everyone I meet who shows the slightest interest, I have many friends in Chișinău, and I have even visited Comrat, the capital of the Autonomous Territorial Unit of Gagauz Yeri. Moldovan wine is fantastic, and Moldovan food is decent, though the landscape is not terribly exciting (but not everyone can be Switzerland, after all).

I have to admit that this is a minority enthusiasm, which has visibly not been shared by the owners of books logged on LibraryThing and Goodreads. The top book with a Moldovan setting, by quite a long way, is by a British comedian who rashly wagered with a friend that he would be able to defeat the entire Moldovan national football team, one by one, at a sport of his own choice. I’m a bit uneasy about some of the attitudes displayed, and it also must be admitted that significant (though short) chunks of the narrative take place in London, Northern Ireland and Israel, but it is clearly by far the best-known book in English about the country. Published in 2001, it is:

Playing the Moldovans at Tennis, by Tony Hawks

The best-known book set within the internationally recognised boundaries of Moldova, and by someone from there, is a largely autobiographical memoir of growing up in a family of Siberian mafia emigrants to Transnistria, during and after the conflict of the 1990s. It’s been a big hit in Italy, where the author now lives, and has been filmed with John Malkovich in the lead role of the narrator’s grandfather. It is:

Siberian Education: Growing Up in a Criminal Underworld, by Nicolai Lilin

The top book by an author from the territory controlled by the Moldovan government is a story of various attempts to emigrate to Italy; it has been well reviewed, though published only last year in English. It is:

Все там будем / The Good Life Elsewhere, by Vladimir Lorchenkov

I’m really surprised and slightly sad not to find more.

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