Lenin’s Asylum

by A. A. Weiss

published in June 2018, a memoir of two years spent in Moldova as a Peace Corps volunteer

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What people are saying about Lenin’s Asylum

Like many Peace Corps volunteers, A. A. Weiss was sent to serve in a country that did not exist when he was born. Moldova? Part of the magic of the volunteer experience is that a place you’ve never thought about becomes your entire world for two long years. Weiss writes beautifully, and in Lenin’s Asylum he brings the post-Soviet society to life, with humor, keen observation, and compassion.

~ Peter Hessler, author of River Town and Oracle Bones


The best travel writers are cool-headed, reliable reporters who offer us rare glimpses into foreign lands. Through such stories, we experience the writer’s transformation from outsider to insider, and witness a blossoming love affair with the people, the land, the history. Weiss is exactly such a writer. In Lenin’s Asylum, he invites us into Moldova, the poorest country in Europe, where he paints a vivid and affectionate portrait of Riscani—from students who smoke and drink to wild rides in the back of a bread truck—and teaches us the importance of immersing oneself in another culture, reminding us that sometimes to find ourselves, we must risk getting lost. With gentle wit and self-deprecating humor, like the best travel writing, Weiss brings Moldova to life on the page. And we are all made better because of it.

~ Angela Morales, author of The Girls In My Town


In spare and evocative prose, A. A. Weiss takes us to a country many of us will never visit, and in the process, shows us the simple joys and love that can be found in a place where life is neither simple nor easy. This is a generous, sometimes funny—and always loving—memoir of Peace Corps life that asks hard questions about the utility of volunteerism—and answers them with the beauty of the bonds formed between strangers across cultures.

~ Kelly Grey Carlisle, author of We Are All Shipwrecks


A. A. Weiss’s memoir Lenin’s Asylum throws a curveball through expectations of the post-college memoir. Weiss’s book ventures into some familiar terrain–early-20s relationships, figuring out your place in the world–but geographically shifts them, and in doing so turns them unfamiliar. Throw in a deftly sketched portrait of contemporary Moldova, and you have a subtly compelling work about teaching, learning, and the process of self-discovery.

~ Tobias Carroll, author of Transitory and Reel


The author’s two years in Moldova are a delight to follow and could prove inspiring to anyone hoping to discover other cultures as a Peace Corps volunteer. An incisive, amusing, and thoroughly engrossing account of working in a former Soviet republic.

~ Kirkus Reviews