Author(s): Rory MacLean
Winston the pig fell into Aunt Zita's life when he dropped onto her husband's head and killed him dead. It was a distressing end to a distinguished life of spying for the U.S.S.R. After the funeral Zita, a faded Austrian aristocrat and vivacious eccentric, refuses to remain at home in East Germany. Instead she hijacks her nephew Rory and, with Winston in tow, sets out on one last ride. Austrians have extended families, their lineage is Europe's history and Zita has decided to rediscover hers. In a rattling Trabant the threesome puff and wheeze across the continent, following the threads of memory Zita's remarkable east European relations - the angel of Prague, the Hungarian grave digger who had buried Stalin's nose, a dying Romanian propagandist - help tie together the loose ends of her life. The travelers picnic at Auschwitz. They meet Lenin's embalmer. They visit the impoverished Czech town where the sewers run with jewels. Everywhere they learn what life had truly been like under totalitarian rule. They hear a torrent of life tales, some heartbreaking, some hilarious, all enriched with the joy of telling after decades of enforced silence. Humorous and black, touched with the surreal and the farcical, Stalin's Nose is a true and exceptionally vivid story of a journey from the Baltic to the Black Sea, between Berlin and Moscow, through an eastern Europe divested of fear and free to face the past.