Eighty-two years after Moses Dibobis escaped from the Lithuanian hamlet of Birzai with nothing but a sack lunch, the author journeys back to this former Soviet enclave looking for a link to his grandfather—something greater than their shared receding hairline and sense of humor. What he finds on this wild road trip is a place where premium vodka is cheaper than water, spa treatments are more than a little invasive, and that Stalin theme parks are just the beginning of the odd charms of this beguiling nation. Through it all, David Smiedt takes all that is irreverent about modern-day Molvania and delivers a charming, funny narrative that captures the bizarre appeal of his ancestral homeland.
In 2003 David Smiedt traveled to South Africa and found a very different country from the one he left in 1989 at the age of 19. This stirring memoir covers Smiedt's travels across a post-Apartheid nation full of confusion and contradictions as he searches for his long-lost father. From Soweto to Cape Town, from Kruger to Kimberley, what Smiedt finds in this rapidly evolving country is shocking, entrancing, surreal, and stunningly beautiful.