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The Hall of the Singing Caryatids

3.73 of 5 stars 3.73  ·  rating details  ·  128 ratings  ·  21 reviews
After auditioning for the part as a singing geisha at a dubious bar, Lena and eleven other “lucky” girls are sent to work at a posh underground nightclub reserved exclusively for Russia’s upper-crust elite. They are to be a sideshow attraction to the rest of the club’s entertainment, and are billed as the “famous singing caryatids.” Things only get weirder from there. Secr...more
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Published October 27th 2011 by New Directions
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Greg
The general themes of this book are similar to the ones Pelevin covers in his other books. The absurd nature of post-Soviet Russia and the weird predatory version of Capitalism that now rules the land there and Buddhism. There are other themes too, and I'm probably being unfairly reductionist, but, whatever.

Parts of this long-short story I enjoyed, and parts I thought could have been cut or shortened. I think as a medium/long-short story this would have worked better. Is this a novella? I guess...more
jeremy
victor pelevin's the hall of the singing caryatids is a slim work brimming with satire and imagination. the russian novelist and short story writer's appeal seems to be growing with english readers ever more steadily (thanks, in no small part, to wonderful translations by andrew bromfield). singing caryatids takes aim at present-day russian politics, consumer culture, and exploitative male dominance with an inventive tale that manages to incorporate an injectable serum that allows its users to r...more
oriana
So I saw on Facebook or Twitter or somewhere that New Directions had proofs of this -- a new fucking Pelevin, ZOMG I love him so much -- that they were giving away to reviewers. So I wrote to them and was like "I write reviews for the illustrious CCLaP, here is a link to some of my work, would you be so kind as to send me a copy?" AND THEY DID. I have arrived, baby!

***

I'm sad I never made the time to do a review of this. But it was really really really short, and left little in the way of a last...more
Monica Carter
"The situation is rendered particularly acute," the young man continued, "by the fact that in the course of a predatory and criminal process of privatization, the wealth of our country fell into the hands of a bunch of oligarchs specially selected by agents operating in the dark wings of the international stage, on the basis of their spiritual squalor. Not that they're irredeemably bad people, no, you shouldn't think that, papa mama nuthouse eighteen. They are more like little children, incapab
...more
David
This is an intriguingly odd little book. It set out a map at the beginning and then walked right off into the forest. As it should, it left many questions for me to ponder when finished. However, I think I might have liked just one or two more answers than I got. That's just personal taste, but I was fairly befuddled for such a short work. I was definitely impressed, just not completely sure what I should make of it.
Mason Jones
I was very happy to accidentally come across this book on the front shelves at St Mark's Books in NYC during a summer trip there -- it's a slim volume, more of a novella than a novel, but I'll take any Pelevin I can find. I've read all of his other books that have been translated, and they're always enjoyable. He's a bit like the Russian equivalent of Haruki Murakami, one of my other favorites. This novella is as odd as any of his works, enough so that a summary seems simply bizarre: our protago...more
Claudia Putnam
I should stop giving stars altogether because I'm realizing there's no coherence to my system. GR could help us all out by allowing half-stars, I feel, though they'd probably mess up their averages quite a bit.

3.5

A little too much of the random weirdness of Sorokin's Ice Trilogy thrown in, it feels like to me. But it's short and fairly painless to read and so blackly hilarious in places, it's well worth anyone's time, particularly if you know anything about Russia and Russian lit and Russian/So...more
Zarah
Plenty of people-insects and philosophy here, too. He's so weird.
I think this was actually my least favorite of Pelevin's so far.
Daisy
Dec 21, 2012 Daisy rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Daisy by: Skylight Books
Shelves: russia
This is by no means a cozy read. This is odd, sharp, disconcerting with its neuro-linguistic programming and Crypto-Speak, oligarchs, call girls, praying mantises, and music. I know it's saying something about modern Russian culture, even in light of its Soviet past. I might not be smart enough to figure out exactly what it's saying. I didn't not enjoy this. But it's not a pleasant read. Very interesting though, don't get me wrong. I'm glad I read it. (And I read it on the subway to jury duty an...more
Patricia
Just your typical book about telepathic communion with mantises...
Michael sinkofcabbages
I liked this author a lot and saw/ read a lot of reviews of this book. Its a really short read and kind of strange in a good way. Its disturbing but not shallow. I think a person would have to have a good amount of background exposure to russian life and lit. to really get under the surface of the dry/ sparse language. One of those books that i think most people would burn through and say it wasnt anything. But for the intimate it will be like reading a sparse/ brief obituary. A punch in the sto...more
Rebecca Schwarz
I really wanted to like this more than I did. I loved Oman Ra and definitely want to read more modern Russians. There are some lovely surreal moments here. The characters were quirky and interesting. But, overall, the meta elements were laid on a little too thick (e.g. endlessly quoted nonsensical faux text), and, as other reviewers said, the translation seemed clunky. The surreal and mundane elements weren't merged adequately with the fantastic. This might be why the ending felt unfinished and,...more
Marty
This was a weird little novel. Somewhere between sci-fi fantasy and political intrigue. It's probably a good thing that it's a really small book. Between the pontificating owner of the secret nightclub that Lena works in, the incomprehensible ideologist and the drug-induced visions of giant preying mantises, it was hard to read after a few pages. If it had been longer it would have been entirely unreadable. Not one of my faves, obviously
Terry
This book is brisk, smart, and a disturbing ride. My brain is on fire and it is only a 2 hour read. This author is smart and onto something extraordinary. I need to read more, but was able to "get" the Schopenhauer/Wittgenstein jokes readily. Amazing text.
Andrew Kaufman
Brilliant, although I have no reason why.
Chad Post
A lot of fun packed into 105 pages . . .
Christine J.
This was completely wackadoo.
Rob
Loved this. Delicious book.
Pete
Crazy stuff. Fun to read.
Claire
Claire marked it as to-read
Oct 06, 2014
Dmitry Zavodov
Dmitry Zavodov marked it as to-read
Oct 04, 2014
Mathieu Sauve-frankel
Mathieu Sauve-frankel is currently reading it
Sep 23, 2014
Scott Andrews
Scott Andrews marked it as to-read
Sep 10, 2014
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4594585
aka Виктор Олегович Пелевин (Rus)

"Victor Olegovich Pelevin is a Russian fiction writer. His books usually carry the outward conventions of the science fiction genre, but are used to construct involved, multi-layered postmodernist texts, fusing together elements of pop culture and esoteric philosophies. Some critics relate his prose to the New Sincerity and New Realism literary movements." (Wikipe...more
More about Victor Pelevin...
Omon Ra The Sacred Book of the Werewolf The Life of Insects Generation "П". Повести. Рассказы Buddha's Little Finger

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