Book review: In the Land of Alexander: Gay Travels, With History and Politics, in Hungary, Yugoslavia, Turkey, and Greece, by Keith Hale

The GLBTRT has been reviewing books and movies in its newsletter since the early 1990s. Trace the evolution of queer publishing through these historic reviews. This review was originally published in Vol. 3, No. 1 & 2, Fall 1990/Winter 1991.

Cover of In The Land of AlexanderHale, Keith. In the Land of Alexander: Gay Travels, With History and Politics, in Hungary, Yugoslavia, Turkey, and Greece. Alyson Publications, 1990. Paper. $8.95. (ISBN 1-55583-1 68-0)

In the summer of 1989, gay novelist and teacher Keith Hale visited four countries in southeastern Europe. This recent travelogue combines an account of his adventures with historical background on the areas that he visited. One chapter contains an overview of recent gay and lesbian history in Eastern Europe. This information appears accurate and is especially timely given the emergence of gay and lesbian communities following decades of brutal suppression under communist regimes in the region.

Unfortunately, Hale’s account of his travels fails to match the excellence of his political or historical commentary. He whines his way through each country, complaining about transportation, accommodations, food and many of the people that he encounters. Since he was travelling on a limited budget without an itinerary or reservations at the height of the tourist season, his complaints generally lack validity. Furthermore, he fails to adequately portray his fellow travelers or local residents with whom he becomes friendly or intimate.

He obviously aims his book at a gay male audience. However, many readers, especially those who enjoyed his novel Cody may be disappointed. Recommended for large lesbian/gay collections or for readers with particular interest in Eastern Europe.

Reviewed by Joseph Eagan
Enoch Pratt Free Library
Baltimore, Maryland

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