While reading On the Road to Babadag I gradually came to realise that I had a fair amount in common with Andrzej Stasiuk. Apart from anything else we are among the few people to have visited the curious town of Soroca in the ‘lawless’ Republic of Moldova and to have met Artur, the eccentric Gypsy Baron of long, forked white beard, and black Volga limousine in his front garden, its windscreen riddled with bullet holes.
Soroca sits on the edge of the Dniester River on the border between Moldova and Ukraine, and its Gypsy quarter is, as Stasiuk writes, ‘unlike anything else in Moldova’. I would say it is unlike almost anything else anywhere. Glittering Gypsy palaces cluster upon a bank above the