Monday, 31 January 2011

Life According to Lubka or How an English Woman Perceives Bulgarians

Life according to Lubka is simple. It is all about the little pleasures of life, which we see all the time but somehow fail to notice. It is about dressing up nicely when you are home alone just to watch a movie. Out of respect for yourself.

Life according to Lubka is about facing all the obstacles in front of you with a smile and positivism. Lubka's husband and child died but she didn't give up her life. She continues to grasp every opportunity and to enjoy it. Life according to Lubka is to be a fighter.

Life according to Lubka is to understand that whatever happens to you is the right thing at the moment. Life according to Lubka is to accept it, deal with it and continue your life in the best possible way.

Life according to Lubka is to do the right thing even if no one is watching you. Life according to Lubka is to believe in God or in some universal power that guides you through. After all, as Lubka asks "If there was no God, why are there stars and sky. It could have been nothing"

Life according to Lubka is to sing. Sing with your heart even if you have a terrible voice. Sing even if you don't know the exact words. Sing in front of other people or alone. Sing to live.

Who is Lubka? Lubka is a 40 something year-old Bulgarian grandma, part of Gorni Grannies - Bulgarian singers that perform typical folklore music. They are on a tour in the USA and the UK under the control of the nervous and cold-hearted PR consultant Buzz Wexler. Having never left their (or should I say my?!) home country the grannies are perplexed by the luxurious hotels, the free staff, the shops, and the foreign culture. The five grannies, which of which more lovingly weird, and their unbelievable vicissitudes are about to change the control-freakish Buzz, who has not cared for anything in her life besides botox, alcohol, drugs, and success. The clash between the Bulgarian quintet and the "American dream" is hilarious -
insane incidents filled with humour, irony, and a lot of wisdom. Kichka, a kleptomaniac, gets kidnapped by mistake. Stanka is constantly surrounded by her grandson, most probably connected to Eastern European mafia, and his bodyguards. Dora cries constantly about her goat and from time to time calls her on the phone. Tsveta meets her daughter in the US, who joins the singing grannies. And finally - Lubka. Lubka is a fighter and a leader. Having lost her husband and child, the Bulgarian singer continues to explore life with a child-like fascination. Her passion for life is about to change the cynical Buzz Wexler. And even help her when the unbelievable happens to Buzz.

If you are looking for a serious book close this review straight away. However, if you want to laugh with five Bulgarian grannies on the verge of civilization, Life according to Lubka is your book. Funny, light, and seemingly unpretentious, the novel offers truths about life, well hidden between humorous situations, scandals, and troubles. Laurie Graham created her heroines with such vivid imagination and satire that they quickly become favorites of the reader.

I have lived for almost three years now in the UK and I still have no definite answer to how the English perceive us, Bulgarians. Some are fascinated with our distinct culture. The Mystery of Bulgarian Voices even had a show in Manchester a few months back. Many want to visit Bulgaria because of the great ski tourism or alternatively for the so called sex tourism on the seaside. Others are politically skeptical about Bulgaria joining the EU. They see us as a poor slowly developing country pushing the EU backwards. Some ask whether we will have electricity on Christmas day due to the gas crisis in Russia. And still there are those who do not even know whether Bulgaria is in Europe or in Asia. All of them are fascinated with the way Bulgarians drink and party, comparing us even to Russians ( I don't know whether to take this as a compliment or as an insult).

Laurie Graham offers another perspective. The perspective of the Bulgarian folklore and the way it teaches you to live. According to Lubka.


  1. I'm not going to dissect this book, I found it a nice warm cosy read suited to a Sunday evening. To describe this book in a sentence, I would say it's a literary version of the character Samantha Jones("fabulously" single live style) from Sex and the city but on tour with the ladys from Borat's village. For those who enjoyed this book I would highly recommend, A short history of tractors in the Ukrainian and Two caravans, both books by Marina Lewycka.

  2. Hahaha :) Nice view :) I am glad that you at least had a nice time with the book. It is not a serious novel; it is just a cosy read (as you say) to make you smile and laugh and maybe think about how to take life not so seriously after all.

  3. Plus I learned that the great leader Ronald Reagan has the same birthday as me ;) it was written in the book.