The raucous and surprisingly poignant story of a young, Russia-obsessed American writer and comedian who embarked on a solo tour of the former Soviet Republics, never imagining that it would involve kidnappers, garbage bags of money, and encounters with the weird and wonderful from Mongolia to Tajikistan.
Kazakhstan, Belarus, and Siberia are not the typical tourist destinations of a twenty-something, nor the places one usually goes to eat, pray, and/or love. But the mix of imperial Russian opulence and Soviet decay, and the allure of emotionally unavailable Russian men proved strangely irresistible to comedian Audrey Murray.
At age twenty-eight, while her friends were settling into corporate jobs and serious relationships, Audrey was on a one-way flight to Kazakhstan, the first leg of a nine-month solo voyage through the former USSR. A blend of memoir and offbeat travel guide, this thoughtful, hilarious catalog of a young comedian’s adventures is also a diary of her emotional discoveries about home, love, patriotism, loneliness, and independence.
Sometimes surprising, often disconcerting, and always entertaining, Open Mic Night in Moscow will inspire you to take the leap and embark on your own journey into the unknown. And, if you want to visit Chernobyl by way of an insane-asylum-themed bar in Kiev, Audrey can assure you that there’s no other guidebook out there. (She’s looked.)
|Product dimensions:||5.80(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.50(d)|
About the Author
Audrey Murray is a redhead from Boston who moved to China and became a standup comedian. The co-founder of the Kung Fu Komedy, Audrey was named the funniest person in Shanghai by City Weekend magazine. Audrey is a staff writer for Reductress.com and a regular contributor at Medium.com; her writing has also appeared in The Gothamist, China Economic Review, Nowness, Architizer, and on the wall of her dad’s office. Audrey has appeared on the Lost in America, Listen to This!, and Shanghai Comedy Corner podcasts, on CNN and ICS, and in Shanghai Daily, Time Out, Smart Shanghai, That’s Shanghai, and City Weekend. She recently published her first memoir, Open Mic Night in Moscow.
Table of Contents
The Silk Road 1
1 Opening for a Meditative Drum Circle in Almaty (Kazakhstan) 3
2 Crossing a Land Border from Kazakhstan to Kyrgyzstan 18
3 Riding a Horse in the Mountains of Kyrgyzstan 30
4 The Most Terrifying flight on Earth (Tajikistan) 53
5 A Ten-Day Road Trip Through Tajikistan 70
6 Touring the Black Markets in Uzbekistan 97
7 Trains, Tombs, and Ovaries (Uzbekistan) 128
8 An Invitation to a Stranger's Wedding (Uzbekistan) 141
9 A Visit to a Secret Museum (Uzbekistan) 155
10 Camping Beside the Door to Hell (Turkmenistan) 167
11 Taken in Turkmenistan 181
12 How to Get out of Turkmenistan When You're out of Cash 196
13 Clubbing with Strangers from a Convenience Store in Kazakhstan 207
Eastern Europe 210
14 An Afternoon in Chernobyl (Ukraine) 221
15 Halloween in Your Lover's Homeland (Belarus) 250
16 Couchsurf the Baltics (Lithuania) 274
17 All Trains Lead to Russia 281
The Trans-Siberian Railway 313
18 Trans-Siberian Prelude: A Brief Stopover in China 315
19 A Month on the Trans-Siberian 320
20 Open Mic Night In Moscow 384
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This book recounts the adventures of the author as she visits all of the countries that once made up the Soviet Union. The chapters vary from hilarious adventures to thoughtful musings on romance, yaks, bad breakups, moths, Genghis Kahn, and society’s expectations of women. She visits a museum in the middle of the desert where a collector secretly amassed the works of banned Soviet artists, camps beside a crater that has been burning for forty years, and becomes an expert on trading currency in black markets. The writing is extraordinary, reading this book was pure delight. We are right there with her travelling along the border with Afghanistan, riding the Trans-Siberian Railway, and everywhere else. As we travel, she calls our attention to the unique, the striking, and the thought provoking in scene after scene. The chapters on the Uzbek wedding, the secret museum, getting out of Turkmenistan when she had run out of money, and the visit to Chernobyl are exceptional high points in an excellent book by a gifted writer. I enjoyed this book so much that when I finished it, I started over and read it again.
“Open Mic Night in Moscow” is a chronicle of stand-up comedian’s Audrey Murray’s trip to the former Soviet republics (inspired by her Russian ex-boyfriends). Most of the book is spent on countries like Uzbekistan/Kazhakastan/Tajikistan/Turkeministan (the more Asian parts of the former sprawling Soviet Union land mass), while the last third finishes off with the European republics (Ukraine, Belarus, the Baltics, and lastly Russia). Murray accompanies her travelogue with historical backgrounds about each country, to provide the reader with a fuller picture. The history is interspersed with the author’s travel adventures: almost getting kidnapped, attending weddings, running out of cash, contacting the useless embassy to come to her rescue, staying with random locals, exploring her ex-boyfriend’s place of birth, etc. The writing is simultaneously witty and informative, juxta positioning the author’s current experience being there with that of the Soviet past, from an outsider’s perspective. There’s also a lot fish-out-of-water type of moments. Overall, an entertaining yet informative travelogue.
... and good research for when Vlad moves Russia's capitol to Washington. Should you get this book? Duh (yes!). Who knew Valley Girls spoke Russian?! What a brave woman traveling alone...inspiring. The book sample is generous in length, and when it ends you will want to read more!