“No summary can do justice to the strange appeal of this unusual, short book, which is at once a crime novel, a comic novel and a serious political satire on contemporary Ukraine.” —Anne Appelbaum, The Wall Street Journal
With the collapse of the Soviet Union, newly-free Ukraine is a shell-shocked land …
In poverty-and-violence-wracked Kyiv, unemployed writer Viktor Zolotaryov leads a down-and-out life with his only friend, Misha, a penguin that he rescued when the local zoo started getting rid of animals it couldn’t feed. Even more nerve-wracking for Victor: a local mobster has taken a shine to Misha and wants to borrow him for events.
But Viktor thinks he’s finally caught a break when he lands a well-paying job at the Kyiv newspaper writing “living obituaries” of local dignitaries—articles to be filed for use when the time comes.
The only thing is, the time always seems to come as soon as Viktor finishes writing the article. Slowly understanding that his own life may be in jeopardy, Viktor also realizes that the only thing that might be keeping him alive is his penguin.
“I loved the f*ck out of it.” —Paul Constant, The Stranger
“Death and the Penguin comes across as an almost perfect little novel … fast-paced and witty and on the side of the angels.” —John Powers, NPR’s Fresh Air
“Death and the Penguin successfully balances the social awkwardness of Woody Allen, the absurd clashes of Jean-Luc Godard and the escalating paranoia of Franz Kafka.” —Vikas Turakias, The Cleveland Plain Dealer
“A striking portrait of post-Soviet isolation…. In this bleak moral landscape Kurkov manages to find ample refuge for his dark humor.” —The New York Times
“Delicious… when Viktor finally finds Misha it is as if Woody Allen had gone to meet Kurtz.” —The Spectator
“The deadpan tone works perfectly, and it will be a hard-hearted reader who is not touched by Viktor’s relationship with his unusual pet.” —The Times (London)
“Misha, the most memorable character of his thriller Death and the Penguin, left web-footed prints all over my imagination.” —NPR