• The Humorless Ladies of Border Control

  • Touring the Punk Underground from Belgrade to Ulaanbaatar
  • By: Franz Nicolay
  • Narrated by: Franz Nicolay
  • Length: 9 hrs and 33 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (8 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

In 2009 musician Franz Nicolay left his job in the Hold Steady, aka the world's greatest bar band. Over the next five years, he crossed the world with a guitar in one hand, a banjo in the other, and an accordion on his back, playing the anarcho-leftist squats and DIY spaces of the punk rock diaspora. He met Polish artists nostalgic for their revolutionary days, Mongolian neo-Nazis in full SS regalia, and a gay expat in Ulaanbaatar who needed an armed escort between his home and his job. The Russian punk scene was thrust onto the international stage with the furor surrounding the arrest of the group Pussy Riot, and Ukrainians found themselves in the midst of a revolution and then a full-blown war.

While engaging with the works of literary predecessors from Rebecca West to Chekhov and the 19th-century French aristocrat the Marquis de Custine, Nicolay explores the past and future of punk rock culture in the post-Communist world. An audacious debut from a vivid new voice, The Humorless Ladies of Border Control is an unforgettable, funny, and sharply drawn depiction of surprisingly robust hidden spaces tucked within faraway lands.

©2016 Franz Nicolay (P)2016 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"A pleasing romp: punk in attitude but literary in execution and a fine work of armchair travel for those unwilling to strap on an accordion on the streets of Rostov for themselves." ( Kirkus)

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One of the best travel books ever written

I lived in eastern Europe and have read almost every book about the region. I resisted reading this one for some time as the premise(punk rocker tours eastern Europe) didnt interest me even though the reviews were glowing. Boy was I wrong. This is a very well written and engaging book and offers a glimpse into the e Europe underground and day to day life that other authors couldn't and haven't come close to capturing. His Polish\Ukrainian wife surely helped by translating conversations and made the characters they meet along the way come to life.

The book is read by the author and gives the book even more credibly as he bring situations he is describing come to life. He even pronounces Lodz right.

After reading, I think that this is not just a good book but one of the finest travel books ever written.