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Debt-ridden and divorced, Mark King wins a travel writing competition with a bogus article and is sent to Astlavonia, a former soviet state, to write its first ever guidebook. He stays with Augustus, a Fagin-like professor, who warns that all disputes are settled with a knife. This would be fine if Mark hadn't fallen in love with the daughter of the chief of police, a survivor of the Gulag and hater of 'occupying' foreigners. 'This inventive and enjoyable romp set in a fictional ex-soviet republic has its fair share of effective and amusing moments, engaging and well realized characters, and bizarre and intriguing situations.' Colin Murray. 'Intelligent ideas and flashes of real wit,' David Grossman. 'Original and insightful,' James Pryor.