Playing the Moldovans at Tennis

Playing the Moldovans at Tennis

3.74 (2,266 ratings by Goodreads)
By (author) 

List price: US$10.37

Currently unavailable

Add to wishlist

AbeBooks may have this title (opens in new window).

Try AbeBooks


All I knew about Moldova were the names of eleven men printed on the inside back pages of my newspaper. None of them sounded to me like they were any good at tennis ...' An eccentric wager finds Tony Hawks, a man who loves an unusual challenge, bound for the little-known Eastern European state of Moldova. His mission: to track down members of the country's football team and persuade them to play him at tennis. The bizarre quest ultimately has little to do with tennis or football, but instead turns into an extraordinary journey involving the Moldovan underworld, gypsies, chronic power shortages, near kidnap, and a surprisingly tender relationship with his host more

Product details

  • Paperback | 248 pages
  • 126 x 194 x 18mm | 199.58g
  • Ebury Publishing
  • Ebury Press
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • New edition
  • New edition
  • 8 b&w halftones
  • 0091874564
  • 9780091874568
  • 1,930,528

Review quote

'Even if you hate tennis and couldn't find Moldova on the map, you'll be charmed. Utterly recommended', FHM .'Surprisingly touching as well as incredibly funny', The Oxford Times .'I expected to find this book funny, which it is; I didn't expect to find it illuminating and rather moving, which it is too', Daily Mail .'This immensely readable account, enriched with moments of true hilarity is, quite honestly, a bit of a gem', Living Abroad Magazineshow more

Review Text

Another goofy travelogue-and a UK bestseller-by the English writer who, on a dare, once hitchhiked around Ireland with a refrigerator. Don't come to Hawks, as you might with just about any other literary travel-writer, expecting to glean respectful social-studies lessons about exotic Third World places and why they seem that way to jaundiced First Worlders. When Hawks takes us to Moldova-that sandwich-thin, Romanian-speaking slice of the former Soviet Union once known as Bessarabia-it's mostly to complain about the awful food, the horrific drinking habits of the locals, and the absence of reliable telephones, electric lights, and hot water. Still, he's quick to admit his ignorance of the place. He writes, for instance, that he'd been blissfully unaware of a separatist movement of Russian-speaking Moldovans that declared a "Transnistrian Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic" following the collapse of the Gorbachev regime. "All this had gone largely unnoticed by Western observers and particularly by me," he confesses. "I'd been too busy practicing my serve." He'd been doing so to bone up for another goofy dare, namely, to find and play tennis matches against the Moldovan national soccer team, which had given the English team a good scare in an international match some months earlier. His account of his travels to Moldova, Transnistria, Northern Ireland, and Israel to track down those worthy opponents may remind some readers of Bill Bryson (except that Hawks is genuinely funny and doesn't have to reach to get a laugh). The payoff (finding out how the bet turns out) is well worth the occasional dry patches. Not particularly elevated or elevating, but a lot of fun. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

Rating details

2,266 ratings
3.74 out of 5 stars
5 20% (461)
4 42% (944)
3 31% (698)
2 6% (143)
1 1% (20)
Book ratings by Goodreads
Goodreads is the world's largest site for readers with over 50 million reviews. We're featuring millions of their reader ratings on our book pages to help you find your new favourite book. Close X