Wednesday, 27 November 2013

The Book! The Book!

It's nearly here - my book Poor But Sexy. Culture Clashes in Europe East and West is coming out o March 28th 2014 on Zero Books. I will be posting here all events related to this - as well as reviews, articles and other pieces of writing. Book will be probably available before that date on Amazon anyway.

"24 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Europe is as divided as ever. The passengers of the low-budget airlines go east for stag parties, and they go west for work; but the east stays east, and west stays west. Caricatures abound - the Polish plumber in the tabloids, the New Cold War in the broadsheets and the endless search for 'the new Berlin' for hipsters.
Sweeping across the breadth of the former Iron Curtain, Agata Pyzik charts the mutual misunderstandings between Western and eastern Europe, going beyond the familiar myths of plucky dissidents, the horrors of Stalinism and the 'success stories' of a neoliberal New Europe. Rather than a low-wage hinterland for the affluent west or a picturesque holiday destination, Pyzik finds a rich and unwritten counter-history.
Poor but Sexy ranges from Warsaw to Luton, from Prague to East Berlin, from Ukraine to Romania, in search of the counter-currents and other traditions. Instead, Poor But Sexy peers into the secret histories of Eastern Europe (and its tortured relations with the 'west'). Eastern European migration, the post-punk Bowiephile obsession with the 'Eastern Bloc', Orientalism and 'self-colonisation', the emancipatory potentials of Socialist Realism, and the possibility of a non-western idea of modernity and futurism. Its subjects veer from Femen to Depeche Mode, from David Bowie to Nikita Khrushchev, from Socialist Realists to New Romantics.
Refusing both a dewy-eyed Ostalgia for the 'good old days' and the equally desperate desire to become a 'normal part of Europe', Poor But Sexy reclaims the idea of an Other Europe."

What’s a poor girl to do when worlds collide except listen to gloomy rock ’n’ roll bands and dance precariously along the fault-line of history where the Berlin Wall used to be? Born in Poland in the 1980s, Agata Pyzik is barely old enough to remember life under communism. Watching the waves of Ostalgie spreading across the former GDR and other ex-Warsaw Pakt states, she felt compelled to investigate the underlying causes of disenchantment among increasing numbers of Central Europeans hankering for the certainties guaranteed them under Soviet rule. If she began her mission with a sense of bemused contempt for dewy-eyed sentimentalism distorting people’s memory of what life was really like under communism, her investigations reveal a far more complex picture. Poor But Sexy is a fabulous freefall through 25 years of East-West exchanges predicated on the West’s arrogant assumption that at base everybody wants to buy in to their belief systems. Riding these East-West crosscurrents of desire, envy and wounded pride, she has found much to be proud of amid the ruins of communism, and in the process of looking back she has recovered some extraordinary punk, art, fashion and philosophical alternatives to the Western way ahead.

Chris Bohn aka Biba Kopf, editor of The Wire


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