Death and the penguin by Andrey Kurkov

Source – personnel copy

Andrey Kurkov is a Ukrainian writer he grew up under the soviet system ,his father was a test pilot and his mother a doctor .He trained as a Japanese translator and did his Military service as a prison guard in the southern Ukraine city of Odessa ,he has publish thirteen novels and some children’s books .His books have been translated into numerous languages

Death and the penguin was Kurkov’s debut novel and was written in russian and translated here by George Bird ,he has translated Kurkov’s over novels .The book centre’s on Victor a writer struggling to make a living at his craft he has a companion Misha a Penguin he rescue from a local zoo that had to get rid of its animals .The book starts with victor been offered a job which he takes as Obituary writer ,so he then seems to be boosted in the world of politics and corruption as he meets and chats to the friends and family of the recently deceased  or to be deceased as it turns out along the way Victor meets another Misha a human thou which made me laugh as she is referred to as the non penguin Misha through the book .There is also two women that seem to end up at the funerals and a shadowy figure called that fat man ,A downward spiral of disaster awaits Victor as the hapless writer gets drag into a conspiracy ,which means he has to escape and Misha the penguin ends up getting sent to her home in the Antarctic .

Two days later the phone rang ,

capital news. Sorry to trouble you said a crisp ,clear female voice I have the editor in chief on the line .

The receiver changed hands .

Viktor Alekseyevich a man’s voice enquired couldn’t pop in today could you ? or are you busy ?

no said Viktor .

The phone call that sets Viktor on a troubling path and a start in writing Obituaries

This book was dark and comic novel ,a look at post communist Ukraine ,I felt Misha and Viktor maybe symbolise Ukraine a little Misha a nation flightless and out-of-place and Viktor an artist want to find its voice amongst corrupt people and crumbling system .Kurkov’s writing is fast-moving and lyrical at times .Most of the story is told from Viktors point of view as he gets caught up in troubling times .Misha is his escape from his everyday world this penguin that needs him to look after him and ultimately set her free on her new life and in doing so sets himself on a new life path .This book has a follow-up penguin lost

This is one of my eastern european reading challenge choices ,

Have you read this book ?

February 2011


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