Life According to Lubka, By Laurie Graham

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The Independent Culture

I'm slightly uncomfortable with a novel that depends for much of its humour on the linguistic faux pas of those who don't speak English well. The fact that this humour is relayed through the faulty personality of the control-freakish music PR consultant Beryl "Buzz" Wexler, whose own command of English is limited to swear words and sarcastic comments, doesn't really let it off the hook.

Buzz is obliged to look after a group of Bulgarian singers called the Gorni Grannies, who have never left their home country before and who, because they are old and foreign and from the countryside, find glitzy hotels the most perplexing places, where they run the taps on and off and demand to know how much the TV costs when they find out that the shampoo is free. (How hilarious; how patronising). Buzz is portrayed as a classically cold career woman, whose lack of fellow feeling stems, it transpires, from a sense that she wasn't wanted as a child. Sure enough, time spent in the company of the earthy grannies (who also happen to have connections to East European mafia members – is there a cliché left out here?) has her reassessing her priorities.