Book Reviews

Gaydonia by Gary Pedler at Adelaide Books

Genre Gay / Contemporary / Humor/Comedy
Reviewed by ParisDude on 26-October-2020

Book Blurb

Government apparatchik Davor Matosic launches a daring plan to raise revenue in the cash-strapped country of Zablvacia – he’ll transform it into a gay tourist mecca. His opponent, a former fiancee, pushes a rival plan to make money from a line of deliberately mediocre, weight loss inducing foods. The two factions slug it out, with the help and interference of Davor’s gay son, his mother, wife, and daughter, and the entire population of Zablvacia.


Book Review

Who knows the country of Zablvacia? No one, exactly. A former member state of the now extinct Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Zablvacia is a small, landlocked, half-forgotten country situated somewhere in the Balkans. Capital: Zablvacia (why bother to have a different name for the small town?). National currency: the kunar. Main attractions: St. Stephan’s Cathedral, the Eastern Orthodox church, a mosque, the Pluzinovia Cookie Factory, an ancient Town Hall renovated to utter ugliness during the Tito era. That’s it. As one can see, Zablvacia hasn’t much to offer for tourists; unfortunately, is hasn’t much more to offer in terms of natural ressources, either. That’s why ever since Yugoslavia has imploded, the government has been living off generous World Bank loans, which, as loans go, have one major inconvenience: they have to be repaid one day.


Davor Matošić is one of the countless Zablvacian ministers of finance. His son Ivo, a university student, has just returned from the USA and, to Davor’s horror, has come out to his family. What amazes Davor most is not his son’s being gay, but the fact that all the other family members already seem to be in the know: his wife Marija, renowned psychologist (well, renowned for Zablvacian standards), his seventeen-year-old daughter Nevenka, and his widowed mother, the famous singer Vuksa Ćuruvija, welcome the news with no more than a shrug. Worse: Ivo has also brought his boyfriend Clifford “Cliff” Tillman back from America. And to crown it all, the next day Davor needs to present a plan so save the country in front of his fellow ministers as well as Head Minister Petrak. To counter his colleague Ranka Vilović’s plan to sell “Good Enough”-cookies worldwide (she is the owner of the Pluzinovia Cookie Factory, well-known for their less than scrumptious production), Davor comes up with his own, improvised project: Gaydonia. Let Zablvacia become the new Eldorado for gays of all countries, with saunas, designer shops, horseback excursions led by raunchy Village People-esque guides, gay bars, gay nightclubs, etc. As no one really wants to take a decision, both projects are adopted, and Project Gaydonia gets rolling…


Of course, no one knows Zablvacia because it only exists thanks to the fertile imagination of Gary Pedler, author of this humorous little gem. I confess, I giggled and chuckled my way through the whole, uproarious plot. In the beginning, I thought I would witness the Balkan version of a coming-out going horrendously wrong, but the event, anticlimactic in a funny way, only triggers what comes next. From Davor’s colleague’s harebrained scheme of selling “Good Enough”-cookies (and other likewise-branded products) with the marketing argument that if you buy Good Enough, you’ll save money (no one will eat two cookies because one is good enough) to the implementation of Davor’s own plan, just as harebrained, to transform a dusty-musty, outdated, and ambitionless little country into the new gay Mecca, I got hilarious other little details all through the read.


In fact, ‘Gaydonia’ is a wicked farce that criticizes with subtle charm and wit the excesses of modern mass tourism and the willingness of many people to sacrifice everything in order to earn money - be it their culture, their traditions, their language even. I was often reminded not only of my home country Austria, where huge parts resemble a sanitized Alpine Disneyland, but also of Venice, emptied of its local population because, quite simply, housing on the lagoon isles has become too expensive. What I also found funny was the fact that the only ones not engrossed by Project Gaydonia and the money it would bring were the elderly mother, Vuksa, and Cliff, the foreigner, who loves Zablvacia precisely because it isn’t the nameless, featureless copy of USA-land into which Gaydonia will inevitably be transformed—he says at one point that he came to Zablvacia “for quaintness not queerness”.


A very amusing and entertaining book indeed, playful, imaginative, skilfully written, professionally edited and proofread, with twists and turns on every other page, introducing endearing and quirky characters—Vuksa and her penchant for local brandy, broody Nevenka, practical Marija, clueless Davor, critical Cliff, fuzzy-headed Head Minister Petrak, etc. Highly recommended.





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Additional Information

Format ebook and print
Length Novel, 92 pages
Heat Level
Publication Date 05-October-2020
Price $7.99 ebook, $19.60 paperback
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