Borat: Touristic Guidings to Kazakhstan and U.S. and A.

Travel Books: In the new spoof travel guide by Sacha Baron Cohen's alter ego, Frank Bures says the joke is on, well, everyone.

12.10.07 | 4:04 PM ET

Borat Touristic GuidingsOn the small but growing shelf of spoof travel books, a new addition has arrived, just in time to stuff stockings full of deeply offensive, and deeply funny, humor: Sacha Baron Cohen‘s Borat Sagdiyev has penned a two-in-one edition of “touristic guidings” to both the “Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan” and (flip it over) to the “Minor Nation of U. S. and A.”

Cohen’s brand of sophisticated vulgarity isn’t for everyone, but if you’re not too literal-minded and can ignore (or laugh at) jokes about the mentally retarded, Jews, prostitutes, blacks and America itself, then “Borat: Touristic Guidings” is book for you!!! Some of the other spoof travel books, such as Phaic Tan, Molvania and 101 Places Not to Visit can be timid and quickly grow stale. Borat’s new book suffers from no such failings. His is a new kind of cheeky, no-holds-barred, pseudo-ironic raunch that takes its humor to a new low (or high) with each page. 

The Kazakh half starts with an annoucement: “Since release of my moviefilm, ‘Borat’, number of peoples coming to Kazahkstan have increase by a dramatic statistics and last year we made welcome 300,000 foreigners (2,000 tourist, 298,000 slave captured in Uzbekistan. Why not!? They is a work hard!).”

From there it goes on with distorted maps, fictitious timelines (“903 A.D.: Kazahkstan pecked from Great Egg by the Mighty Hawk Ukhtar”) and lists of destinations (Hueylewis Stadium, the Aktobe Polonium Mines, the Kazakh Museum of Intolerance) and useful information about local culture and cuisine (“Horse ear deep fried in dogfat—very delicious, but a very fattenings!)” 

Unfortunately the last section on Borat’s personal life is far more disturbing than funny, and can’t be described here, due to its explicit, incestual nature. In fact, a lot of the Kazakhstan section feels a bit overdone—like beating up on the class weakling—and isn’t nearly as amusing as the half of the book on U.S. and A., where he gets to what he does best: Making fun of U.S. and A.

More specifically, he makes fun of the many Americans who believe that a place like his Kazakhstan could exist. The joke of “Borat” is not really on the former Soviet Bloc nation. Well, maybe a little. But mostly, the joke is on us Americans. 

This becomes more obvious when Borat turns his attention to America, where he is free to lampoon the country’s problems and quirks. The U.S. and A. section is shorter than the Kazakh one, but likewise includes distorted maps, notes on American food (“American Cheese—This is made not from a horse or a woman, but from a cow!! I know, I think the same. But it actual do not taste so bad.”), destination information (“Mount Rushmores is a mountain locate in South Dakotas, which have been carve with the faces of Geoffrey Washington, Thomas Jeffersons, Burt Reynolds and Michael Boltons”) and warnings to other travelers (“Do not be panicked by people running in the park. They are NOT fleeing from gypsy attack or nuclear leakage—they are doing a running for fun, name ‘joggings’! Only in America!!”

Not all of the jokes in “Borat: Touristic Guidings” translate so well from the screen to the page. But in spite of its fearlessly crass humor, there are enough laughs along the way to make it worth at least a short trip into Borat’s twisted world.


Frank Bures is a contributing editor at World Hum, where his stories have won several awards. More of his work can be found at frankbures.com.


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