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About The Book

Daniel Kalder belongs to a unique group: the anti-tourists. Sworn to uphold the mysterious tenets of The Shymkent Declarations, the anti-tourist seeks out the dark, lost zones of our planet, eschewing comfort, embracing hunger and hallucinations, and always traveling at the wrong time of year. In Lost Cosmonaut, Kalder visits locations that most of us don't even know exist -- Tatarstan, Kalmykia, Mari El, and Udmurtia. He loves these places because no one else does, because everyone else passes them by.

A tale of adventure, conversation, boredom, and observation -- occasionally enhanced by an overactive imagination -- Kalder reveals a world of hidden cities, lost rites, mail-order brides, machine guns, mutants, and cold, cold emptiness. In the desert wastelands of Kalmykia, he stumbles upon New Vasyuki, the only city in the world dedicated to chess. In Mari El, home to Europe's last pagan nation, he meets the chief Druid and participates in an ancient rite; while in the bleak industrial badlands of Udmurtia, Kalder searches for Mikhail Kalashnikov, inventor of the AK-47, and inadvertently becomes a TV star. An unorthodox mix of extraordinary stories woven together with fascinating history, peculiar places, and even stranger people, Lost Cosmonaut is poetic and profane, hilarious and yet oddly heartwarming, bizarre and even educational. In short, it's the perfect guide to the most alien planet in our cosmos: Earth.

About The Author

Photo Credit: Author sculpture by Andrei Fomin

Daniel Kalder was born in Fife, Scotland in 1974. He studied English Literature at Edinburgh University. In 1994 he was selected as one of the BBC's Young Poets of the Year. Kalder moved to Russia in 1997, where he found himself living in Smolensk, the only foreigner in the city, totally alone, unable to speak the language or read the alphabet. He loved it. He discovered an alternate universe of names, scientists, architecture, books, art, and music. And so Kalder's obsession with anti-tourism began. In 2001, he published his first short story in Chapman, Scotland's top literary magazine, but he subsequently abandoned short story writing and set about writing Lost Cosmonaut. He has produced articles on various themes ranging from CIA-approved torture techniques to how to swallow swords to the history of Lenin's corpse for a number of magazines in the UK and Moscow under a myriad of pseudonyms. And, so, for the last ten years Kalder has lived in the former Soviet Union applying himself to several different trades, though he has never sold arms or human organs.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Scribner (August 29, 2006)
  • Length: 288 pages
  • ISBN13: 9780743293501

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Raves and Reviews

"Kalder has written a brilliantly funny travel book that questions the essence of exploration and the nature of tourism in an age when there's nowhere new to go." -- Esquire (UK)

"Revelatory." -- The Times Literary Supplement (London)

"A considerable achievement." -- The Guardian (London)

"Imagine a Bill Bryson with Tourette's, and you'll have some of the flavour of this spasmodic, deliberately crass, strangely wonderful book." -- Evening Standard (London)

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