2006 Benjamin Franklin Award
for best travel literature
The Gentleman from Finland: Adventures on the Trans-Siberian Express
Length: 232 pages
Inside: 1 map, end notes and bibliography
Genre: Adult nonfiction, travel
Format: Trade paperback, 5.5" x 8.5"
For E-Book copies please consult Amazon.com or online retailers that sell e-books for Apple I-Pad platform.
Two days aboard what he believes is the Trans-Siberian Express, the author discovers he's on the the wrong train. It is 1987, and he's traveling in the Soviet Union, holding a train ticket that mistakenly identifies him as a Finn. In fact, he is a short, swarthy Mexican-American-Russian-Jew, who speaks only enough Russian to proclaim that he is Bob, the tourist from America.
As the trip unfolds, what begins as the fulfillment of a childhood dream becomes a journey with a cast of characters worthy of a Russian novel. A grim old woman takes his only pair of shoes. Mr. K, a tour director in Novosibirsk, is shocked when an actual tourist - the author - turns up during the middle of an ice storm. A beautiful Russian woman rescues the author from disaster in one city, only to mysteriously reappear in another, fueling his growing paranoia that she is a KGB agent.
Throughout the story, Goldstein interjects historical anecdotes, as well as his own family's past in czarist Russia. The Gentleman from Finland is a sometimes hilarious, sometimes poignant story of the misadventures of a traveler who discovers that a journey on the world's longest rail line is much more than just a big train ride.
What the Reviewers Say
"The Gentleman from Finland is big fun - an entertaining portrait of a singular journey." The Seattle Times
"An Engaging, often madcap memoir..." Seattle Post-Intelligencer
"Sometimes wrly humorous, other times fraught with tension, the Gentleman from Finland is a truly unique travelogue offering a memorable snapshot of one man's encounter with a nation." The Midwest Book Review
"Goldstein's witty, artfully observed memoir of an amazing journey illuminates not only the stark beauty and 'invisible menace' of Siberia but the often conflicted heart and mind of the author himself, who is as much a character as the thuggish black-marketeers, hyperactive bureaucrats, and eccentric fellow travelers he describes so well. The Gentleman from Finland left me feeling grateful for Mr. Goldstein's adventurous spirit both as a traveler and a writer." Lorian Hemingway, author of Walking on Water and A World Turned Over.