Absurdistan is a term sometimes used to satirically describe a country in which absurdity is the norm, especially in its public authorities and government. The expression was originally used by Eastern bloc dissidents to refer to parts (or all) of the Soviet Union and its satellite states. In Czech (Absurdistán), the term was often used by the dissident and later president Václav Havel. This seems to indicate that use of the term began during perestroika. In English, the first recorded printed use of the term was in Spectator in an article on August 26, 1989, about Czechoslovakia (Czechoslovakians have taken to calling their country "Absurdistan" because everyday life there has long resembled the "Theatre of the Absurd".). On September 18, 1989, there was an article in The Nation (New York) called Prague Summer of '89: Journey to Absurdistan. On August 30, 1990, The New York Times used it in an article about the Soviet Union.

Other uses

After its original reference to countries like Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, and others ending in -stan in ironical use for the collapsing Eastern bloc, the term was extended to other countries. The term has been used in several titles of movies, books, and articles:

  • The German comic book Abenteuer in Absurdistan mit Micky Maus (Germany 1993, volume 189 of the comic series "Walt Disneys Lustiges Taschenbuch).
  • Welcome to Absurdistan: Ukraine, the Soviet disunion and the West by Lubomyr Luciuc, 1994 (ISBN 096941255X).
  • The song Absurdistan by Blind Passengers (both single and video, 1995).
  • Absurdistan is a song by German darkwave/gothic rock band Goethes Erben, from their 1997 single Sitz der Gnade. The title is often capitalized as AbsurdISTan to indicate a wordplay on “Absurd ist an”, roughly translating to “The absurd is on”.
  • Hazám, Abszurdisztán is a book by Lajos Grendel, Bratislava, 1998 (ISBN 807149206X).
  • Geboren in Absurdistan, 1999 Austrian movie.
  • Absurdistan by Eric Campbell, 2005, an account of the author's experiences as an Australian Broadcasting Corporation foreign correspondent, including a detailed account of the death of his cameraman and his injury as a result of a car bomb during the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
  • Absurdistan, a 2006 satirical novel by Gary Shteyngart set in a fictional former Soviet republic.
  • Absurdistan, a 2008 film directed by Veit Helmer.

See also


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