The milkman in the night by Andrey Kurkov
Translator – Amanda Love Darragh
Andrey Kurkov the ukrainian writer is probably best know for the first of his Penguin books death and the penguin which I reviewed a while ago here ,he has written 13 novels and a number of children’s books in his time .He is well known for his dark humour and satire .
This his latest book in translation ,is yet again set in and around the capital of Ukraine Kiev .Yet again like in death and the penguin the main character is a middle-aged man .Semyon a body-guard by day , he is married but has starterd to sleep walk every night ,and appear with his clothes in a mess every morning ,his wife doesn’t believe he is sleep walking so he asks his friend to prove this is the case and he find as out he visits a women every night .Elsewhere Irina a single mother sells her breast milk to a strange variety of characters .We also have a politician Gennady a man who is on the rise with influence post orange revolution ,his is a double edge character thou good and generous but also easily cuts people off .Elsewhere the is Dima an airport security guard at Borysil airport with his sniffer dog , who finds and then steals a case contain a mysterious drug ,the maker of the drugs we also meet at the start as he is murdered ,oh and then there is fluffy the cat as well .
” Fluffy ! Fluffy ! ” Dima heard the voice of his wife ,Valaya .He had been trying to sleep .”fluffy ! where are you ? ”
Just the he heard from outside the familiar unpleasant snarling of the neighbour’s bull terrier ,which went by the name of king .Dog and owner were equally objectionable .Instead of taking the dog for a walk its owner would sometimes just let it out in his front yard ,whereupon it would make a beeline for Dima and Valay’s front yard and do its business and chase their cat Fluffy if he should happen to be nearby -before retreating to its own territory .
Dima’s home life early on in the book .
Now as you see this book has a number of smaller stories making it up into a whole the stories do cross at points during the book ,its like the film short cuts or Magnolia where we dash in and out of the lives of people as we view a cross-section of Kiev from the rich to the poor single parent ,families and even the pets make appearances here .Kurkov,s talent is keeping you interested in the vastness of the work with out making you feel you have to take notes to keep up , every twist and turn the stories of their lives gets more comic ,in some ways this could be fraiser (us tv show) as scripted by Anton Chekov it has the feel sometime like Frasier the characters get caught up in a comic moment from one action .This will appeal if you liked death and the penguin, but the again if you though death and the penguin a little to surreal to read maybe this one will appeal more, it is tinged with surrealism but not as much .This book made me laugh and made me cringe at times .The translator is different from his earlier books I prefer This translator to the earlier one for some reason can’t put my finger on it just seemed more straight forward .
Kurkov has done a podcast for Vintage I ve not listen to it yet but here is the link