Atlas of Prejudice 2 (English Edition) Out NOW!

Atlas of Prejudice 2 by Yanko Tsvetkov

Atlas-of-Prejudice-2-TOC

The success of Atlas of Prejudice Volume 1 surprised even the most optimistic people around me. In less than a year, the book was published in German, English, Russian, and Spanish. Several other foreign language editions are in the works. The combined worldwide sales already reached 20,000. I bought a private jet and a house in California.

Well, the last sentence wasn’t quite true. Probably because I declined a $25,000 offer from an established company that wanted to publish the English version under a different title and with a different cover. I thought the demand was outrageous, and said no. Then I self-published the book with CreateSpace and started promoting it without the marketing backup of an established publisher. Freedom has its cost.

The idea about a sequel came almost immediately after I finished the first volume. However, due to the complications with the English edition, I had to postpone most of the work on it until August 2013. Then, in a scenario similar to the struggle with the first book, I had to break the piggy bank with randomly collected proto-ideas and start matching them together like gigantic puzzle pieces of a Jackson Pollock painting.

About a third of the book was written on my tablet, late at night. I remember once I deleted half a chapter with a simple thumb slide. That’s how I found out that Google Keep doesn’t have an automatic save function. And why should it, the app was never meant for writing books. After this high-tech fiasco, I abandoned the dream of writing the entire book on a touchscreen device and went back to Microsoft Word and the good old laptop.

Volume 1 was a collection of maps with a couple of added essays about stereotypes. Most of those maps were already complete when I started the book. Volume 2, on the other hand, is much more organic. The workflow was reversed: I started with the text and drew the new maps only after I finished writing each chapter. I consider Atlas of Prejudice 2 my first real book, in the classic sense of the word. I hope the readers will be able to sense that.

This time around, there’s much more to read. I wanted the book to have a backbone, an idea that runs almost continuously through it, like a baseline of a song. I found inspiration for it examining the generational gap between me and my grandmother. The book opens with a description of the world according to her and ends with a map according to a Facebook user. Even though I am in my late thirties and I’m not a huge fan of that particular social network, I consider myself part of the generation it defines. The self-obsessed teens shouting for attention on various social networks are not very different from what I was at their age. Whatever nuances may separate us, they all fade away when compared to the enormous gap between 2014 and 1932, when my grandmother was born.

The process of growing up and adapting to a new world is often examined in between those chapters. The first voyage of Columbus spelled the end of European puberty. It led to the worst excesses of post-adolescent Spain, an empire that behaved like a 18-year-old college boy, loaded with cash and lack of responsibility. Further to the East, the Pope and the Ottoman sultan competed who will wear the biggest tiara. The Vikings to the North, already Christianized, continued to hunt for narwhals in the Arctic, selling the tusks of those animals as unicorn horns to the ignorant people from the south.

During the promotion of Volume 1 an Austrian journalist assumed my prediction about the end of the European Union was something serious. Volume 2 contains a chapter dedicated to modern Europe and its chances for survival. Of course, Brussels was the last place I turned for inspiration. Kraftwerk’s Trans-Europa Express did a much better job. What is lacking in today’s Europe is something as inspired as this album. Something that transcends the political and economic bullshit of the day. Because, as Alain de Botton recently mentioned in his article about the contemporary addiction to breaking news, “we badly need people whose attention is not caught up in the trends of the moment and who are not looking in the same direction as everyone else”. We need more idealism. Not the naive, distracted kind; we have plenty of it on Facebook, Twitter, or any other place where slacktivism reigns supreme. We need the kind of idealism that is informed and able to reach beyond the day after tomorrow.

But most of all, we need to learn how to laugh at ourselves, and to give up the habit of frowning all the time. Atlas of Prejudice 2 is about that.

The English version of the book is already available on Amazon and it will soon appear on other online retailers. The German version will come out next month, on March 20, and can be preordered here. More information about other stores is available on the official site of the book. A preview of the content is available on Google Books.

Atlas of Prejudice 2 Coming Soon

Atlas der Vorurteile 2 von Yanko Tsvetkov

After selling more than 10 000 copies in Germany in only 6 months and subsequently appearing in English and Russian, the Atlas of Prejudice is ready for a sequel.

In fact I have been preparing it ever since I finished the first book because 80 pages weren’t enough to collect all the ideas I had. The format was already predetermined, so I couldn’t go above it. This is one of the limitations of working with publishers. In my case it was the only one because my publisher in Germany, Knesebeck Verlag, gave me absolute freedom about every aspect of the book, front to back.

It’s easy to forget how much trust such a decision requires, especially with new authors who haven’t proven themselves commercially. Appreciating creativity is one thing but betting a significant part of the budget of your company on it is much more complicated. I am very thankful about that.

Now that we have not only creative ideas but also a solid financial success behind us, Knesebeck Verlag and I are going to continue our collaboration on the next version of the book, the Atlas of Prejudice 2. It’s scheduled to appear in February 2014 on the German market and it will expand the project beyond national stereotypes. The cover, which I just finished, may give you an idea about the new direction. The rest is contained in the draft annotation that describes the project at its current stage:

It’s easy to forget that each and every one of us is culturally biased. A real explorer is able to recognize this psychological flaw and steer clear of it when he gets in touch with a different culture. For the truly adventurous, the world is not a tourist destination but a stage, a platform on which nothing is certain and everything changes all the time.

People who are able to rise above their own cultural limitations often appear as weird. But this weirdness is often projected upon them by the limitations of our own minds we like to describe as “normal”.

In order to truly explore human nature we have to burst the cocoon of cultural preconceptions in which we so eagerly wrap ourselves. We have to overcome the fear of losing our own identity in the process. We have to reject the idea that we are simply products of our societies and rediscover our true roots that run much deeper than any social, cultural, or political accidents.

This book is for those of us who have both the courage and the sense of humor to recognize that.

Stay tuned.

Atlas of Prejudice: The European Age of Incest

Get the Atlas of Prejudice on Amazon US | UK | Germany | France | Italy | Spain

europe-according-to-charles-v

The short essay The European Age of Incest and the map Europe According to Charles V (1555) are taken from the first volume of the Atlas of Prejudice by Yanko Tsvetkov. The book was first published on the German market in 2013 where it became an instant hit selling more than 10 000 copies. The English version of the book was published worldwide on August 11 and is currently available on Amazon.

There weren’t any iPhones in the Middle Ages and nobody today assumes the opposite. Even though we are aware of the immense technological gap between our time and the medieval period, there are some political differences which aren’t so easy to spot. One of the most significant is that the term nation didn’t actually exist. The concept of a national state emerged during the 17th Century, after the Thirty Years’ War.

In 16th Century Europe, states covered the territories owned by the aristocracy associated with a particular crown. Whole regions switched ownership as frequently as Imelda Marcos switched shoes. Royal marriages were political acts through which empires were consolidated or partitioned. Unwilling to share power with strangers, ruling aristocrats started to marry their close relatives, which along with the benefits, brought many genetic disorders.

One of the most powerful monarchs Europe had ever seen, Charles V, by the grace of God, Holy Roman Emperor, forever August, King of Germany, King of Italy, King of all Spains, of Castile, Aragon, León, Navarra, Grenada, Toledo, Valencia, Galicia, Majorca, Sevilla, Cordova, Murcia, Jaén, Algarves, Algeciras, Gibraltar, the Canary Islands, King of Two Sicilies, of Sardinia, Corsica, King of Jerusalem, King of the Western and Eastern Indies, Lord of the Islands and Main Ocean Sea, Archduke of Austria, Duke of Burgundy, Brabant, Lorraine, Styria, Carinthia, Carniola, Limburg, Luxembourg, Gelderland, Neopatria, Württemberg, Landgrave of Alsace, Prince of Swabia, Asturia and Catalonia, Count of Flanders, Habsburg, Tyrol, Gorizia, Barcelona, Artois, Burgundy Palatine, Hainaut, Holland, Seeland, Ferrette, Kyburg, Namur, Roussillon, Cerdagne, Drenthe, Zutphen, Margrave of the Holy Roman Empire, Burgau, Oristano and Gociano, Lord of Frisia, the Wendish March, Pordenone, Biscay, Molin, Salins, Tripoli and Mechelen, was a product of centuries of exquisite royal incest.

As a consequence, he suffered from severe case of mandibular prognathism, a genetic disorder which develops an abnormally extended chin, a condition that colloquially carries the name of his dynasty—Habsburg jaw.

He was unable to chew his food properly, suffered from indigestion and usually ate alone. Logically, the abundance of such genetic defects also meant abundance of power, wealth and land.

There is a famous quote attributed to him: “I speak Spanish to God, Italian to women, French to men, and German to my horse.”

Apart from letting us know that in the early 1500s horses were fluent in German, those words are a testament to His Majesty’s cosmopolitan spirit.

Being the undisputed ruler of Spain, Charles V had direct access to the immense resources of the Spanish colonies in America. Centuries ahead of his time in terms of fiscal innovation, he borrowed heavily from Genovese bankers, using the loans to finance wars and chase the French out of Northern Italy. On their way home, they famously brought with them Leonardo da Vinci who was seduced by Francois I, the king of France himself.

That’s one of the reasons the Mona Lisa is now in the Louvre but don’t blame Charles V about it. Nobody could have foreseen that a common portrait of a woman with questionable beauty could one day become the most famous painting in the world.

Francois I was the arch-enemy of Charles V. Un­­able to forget the Italian loss, the French king resorted to extreme measures. He allied himself with the only man who could rival the power of Charles V: Suleiman the Magnificent, the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire.

For the first time in history a Christian kingdom entered into a political alliance with a Muslim power. Suleiman twice laid siege on Vienna, wreaking havoc among the Catholic world. When he retreated, probably out of negligence, he forgot several bags of coffee and a basket of croissants. The Austrians found them irresistible and stole the recipe, which was in turn stolen from them by the French, who today consider it part of their cultural heritage.

Atlas of Prejudice (English Edition) Out NOW!

Atlas of Prejudice by Yanko Tsvetkov

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE. The Atlas of Prejudice, also known as the book which was written in English but was first published in Germany, is a continuation of the highly successful Mapping Stereotypes project by visual artist Yanko Tsvetkov. Started in January 2009, the project soon became a viral online sensation. It even received Twitter’s equivalent of an Academy Award:

Two years after, the Guardian newspaper summed up its qualities with the grammatically correct sentence: “No matter where you’re from, you should be able to find something here to offend you.”

The project was gradually expanded to contain more than 40 stereotype maps, which the author describes as cartographic caricatures ridiculing the worst excesses of human bigotry and narrow-mindedness. (I’m speaking in 3rd person to make myself look important.) The essays that accompany them narrate the story of the project and contemplate humanity’s affair with prejudice since the dawn of civilization. They offer an even deeper but equally hilarious perspective on our inherent tendency to randomly blame people simply because someone convinced us that they ate our breakfast.

According to this book, the first domesticated animal was not the dog, but the scapegoat. The razor-sharp irony of the author will guide you through the delusions of the ancient civilizations of Greece and China, reveal the stupefying amalgam of superstition and paranoia of the Middle Ages and it will leave you begging for more with a grotesquely hilarious prediction about the future of Europe.

You can get the book on Amazon.com. If you live across the Ocean, there’s Amazon UK.

Update: The Russian edition of the book, Атлас стереотипов и предрассудков, was published by Alpina Non Fiction in September 2013. The second volume of the Atlas of Prejudice is scheduled for publication in Germany next year by Knesebeck Verlag.

Europe According to Luxembourg

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When the editors from the German magazine Der Spiegel asked me if I would agree to make a map according to Luxembourg, I had a lot of doubts because I didn’t know enough jokes about the tiny country, except the fact that once its territory resembled the shape of an angry amoeba. Those people really lucked out when Germany, Belgium and France clipped their borders. Now the country looks neat and tidy.

The Spiegel team had a Luxembourgian colleague who was kind enough to share many useful suggestions and after several days of additional research and googling for weird facts, I got it all on paper. I spared some truths though. Did you know Morrissey wrote a song about a “buck-toothed” girl form Luxembourg who spends her summer all alone in her house? Sexy, no? This is why all countries should have a sea shore!

Europe According to the British Tories

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Something really strange started to happen to the British Conservatives since they came to power. A significant part of them feels so frustrated with the European Union they are eager to take every opportunity to disrupt the ties Britain has with it, regardless of whether it makes sense. Their latest panic attack? The tsunami of potential immigrants from Bulgaria and Romania after the lifting of the work restrictions at the end of this year. Some conservatives seem so eager to play the scare card and collect any momentary dividends that they literary came up with something brilliantly retarded. You think the word is too strong? Well judge for yourself from this report in the Guardian:

Please don’t come to Britain – it rains and the jobs are scarce and low-paid. Ministers are considering launching a negative advertising campaign in Bulgaria and Romania to persuade potential immigrants to stay away from the UK…
The idea, however tentative, appears to clash with the billions of pounds Britain spent on the Olympics, partly to drive up the country’s reputation. It also emerged as the Home Office launched a guide to Britishness for foreigners who would be citizens which opens with the words: “Britain is a fantastic place to live: a modern thriving society”.

It really takes a lot of panic (or cynical opportunism) to assume that you need to trash your own country’s reputation to avoid immigration. The only meaningful explanation is that those who mastered the plan think such trashing will have a precise surgical effect, as if they are aware of a special communication channel which will restrict the message only to Bulgarian and Romanian nationals and also impede them from sharing it with anyone abroad.

I am happy to report that the plan backfired even before its implementation. Apart from the usual Twitter backlash, a Romanian advertising company took advantage of the stupid situation and created its own campaign, inviting Britons tired from the rain to come over and enjoy a better weather. One of the leading Bulgarian bloggers, Boyan Yurukov, took things even further and started an initiative urging anybody from the island to move permanently to Bulgaria.

Somewhere in the middle of this storm I’m throwing my own two cents, the map of Europe according to the Tories you see above, now officially part of my Mapping stereotypes project. Cheers and remember that the German edition of my Atlas of Prejudice book comes out this month. Unfortunately it’s too late to include the current map in it but maybe there will be enough pages in the coming English edition.

Who knows…