Books · Fiction

Review-ish: Death and the Penguin by Andrey Kurkov

3ac7d-deathandpenguinMarch 2013.

This is a book I doubt I shall easily forget. Never has an author created so much pathos for an animal (in this case, Misha, a rescued Emperor penguin from the Kiev Zoo) since Jack London’s “White Fang.” A bird with the intelligence and sensitivity of a dog, waddling around a small Soviet apartment in post-Soviet Ukraine, casting a baleful eye at the new master Viktor, who struggles with his own anxieties in a post-Soviet Kiev ruled by the unnamed powers-that-be.

The relationship between Viktor and his best friend is drawn out through Viktor’s increasingly isolated existence caused by a lucrative job that Viktor soon discovers is dictating the fate — quite literally — of the lives of others, and wildly spinning his moral compass.

I won’t tell you much more, but the satire bites to draw blood at times, and that the absurdity of having a pet penguin in your home isn’t really that absurd at all in Kiev.

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