It may turn out to be a minor classic and get Russian literature going again after the post-Soviet hiatus. Although Death and the Penguin strains to succeed as an existential thriller, it does offer a striking portrait of post-Soviet alienation. P athos and humour shine through to make this a black comedy of rare distinction, and the penguin is an invention of genius. The translation by George Bird is well done, and those who read this book will enjoy it. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge and remind and warn you that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.
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Russian authors list. It might say. I liked it a lot and almost loved it. It was almost warm and it almost made me happy. I almost belonged there. It is bittersweet feeling like going to a funeral and looking around to see if anyone else showed up, like that would make a difference. If you were the sort to show Death and the Penguin is a sweet and strange little book.
Why are there no black veiled women in the back? What else is the measure of success? Kind of. At least, until I wore out my welcome like those kids parties.
This girl told me that she had her "real" party the next day and this was the one for me to go to. I began to feel a bit like that. Or it is an obituary. Did Ashton Kutcher tweet about it or did he delegate to his missus? He also goes to funerals. Not crazy. Viktor is a forty something year old writer living in post soviet Ukraine. Okay, Viktor reminded me of my ex boyfriend in some not too comfortable ways it was eerie. Viktor whines about having to have a day job to pay the bills. Okay, I may be projecting the high level of douchiness onto Viktor.
He was not as bad as my ex boyfriend. But still! Suck it up, Vik! It was a weird place to want to tell Viktor that he was lucky to have a job and have food to put on the table when I had the feeling it was meant to be a situation for the reader to sympathize with him. He was sad. He was afraid to feel happy for what he had. Should I spoil the plot? Viktor should have stood up for him. I love Misha so much. I worried about him. I felt like I knew how he felt.
He stared at the wall. I wanted to listen for his foot falls. I wanted to keep him company. Viktor was a tool whining about his sunny days. Misha was too hot! It was pretty brilliant the way that Kurkov wrote the worry here. Viktor was alone and Misha was alone. They had each other to notice they were there at least on good days. Yet there had to be a push pull for Misha belonged in the cold and Viktor wanted the warmth. They really are the terminal whiners dream couple. I admire Kurkov for writing this so well.
Viktor and Misha have other friends of a kind in their lives. The kinds of friends who cannot step on your toes. Can you stop looking at your feet to see that they are unstepped on? Okay, I admit that Viktor would chase me away. I would leave the party. It was neat that Death and the Penguin made me feel like I could be there to do that.
It was really too bad about the boring mafia plot that took over towards the end. I did that review thing where I only thought about the interpersonal relationships again. So the obits were pretty good and Viktor got a bit of an ego about them. The obits are another way of trying to make amends for what they or someone else did.
In case something is too late. They were about some pretty terrible people and he wrote about them in a humanistic way with some philosophy thrown in all better than I make it sound. I was wondering how he would have written about some of the famous people who have recently died. For example, a certain dictator. Or painted Christopher Hitchens as a saint. That was pretty good for not attempting to explain away why they would want to have someone write obits for people they wanted dead.
Or give away penguins to civilians. Or any of it. It felt like the wall that Misha is always staring at. What is there to see? Misha staring at the wall is the image from the book that stands out in my mind the most.
Death and the Penguin
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