My guest on this week’s programme is Michael Moran, author of A Country in the Moon: Travels in Search of the Heart of Poland.
Michael first visited Poland in the early 1990s after the collapse of Communism as leader of an ill-assorted crew of British teachers charged with introducing the Poles to the delights of market capitalism. As a pianist, he was attracted by the music of Chopin, but confesses that he knew little about the country. He little suspected that he would fall in love with the country and end up making it his home.
A Country in the Moon – the description is Edmund Burke’s and dates from 1795, but might still stand for a country which is very little known and all too often reduced to cliché in the West – achieves something very rare for a travel book: it manages to be genuinely funny and entertaining, and also deeply thought-provoking about the many terrible chapters in Poland’s history.
The book has been widely praised; the Guardian called it “the best contemporary travel book on Poland, reminiscent in its finest moments of Patrick Leigh Fermor’s masterful Time of Gifts” and said “No thinking traveller interested in Poland should overlook this essential book”. The Observer admired how it “triumphantly balanc[ed] humour with scholarship”, while the Spectator called it “well-researched and hugely entertaining… a three-star feast”.
Click on the podcast player above to find out what Michael finds so attractive about Poland – and what it is like to tour the country in a venerable old Rolls-Royce.