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The Suitcase

4.34  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,293 Ratings  ·  76 Reviews

Sergei Dovlatov’s subtle, dark-edged humor and wry observations are in full force in The Suitcase as he examines eight objects—the items he brought with him in his luggage upon his emigration from the U.S.S.R. These seemingly undistinguished possessions, stuffed into a worn-out suitcase, take on a riotously funny life of their own as Dovlatov inventories the circumstances

Hardcover, 128 pages
Published September 28th 1990 by Grove Press (first published 1986)
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A collection of stories connected by items in a suitcase - things our narrator brought with him upon emigrating from the USSR. Who the "he" is, exactly, is a bit curious. While billed as a novel, our narrator seems to be Dovlatov himself, though when contrasted with what is known of his life, it doesn't hold up as firm autobiography, nor as complete fiction -- hovering in that all-too familiar place of half-truth.

It becomes clear each item in the suitcase has outgrown its usefulness, the suitcas
Dec 26, 2014 Janet rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: russia
In these stories, Dovlatov describes the contents of the suitcase he brought out of the USSR in the eighties, containing the whole of his most precious possessions--a belt, a shirt. The stories of the book remind me in a certain way of those in Primo Levi's The Periodic Table based on various chemical elements. I think they're haunting in the same way, though Levi's tone is tender and brave, assured, where Dovlatov's very Russian, contemporary voice is hilarious, self-deprecating, self-implicati ...more
Nov 04, 2012 Daisy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I hope to one day be able to read everything Dovlatov has written. There is such biting humor in his reality.

All ruined peoples are twins...

We greeted each other. She asked, "They say you've become a writer?"
I was bewildered. I wasn't prepared for the question to be put that way. Had she asked, "Are you a genius?" I would have answered calmly and affirmatively. All my friends bore the burden of genius. They called themselves geniuses. But calling yourself a writer was much harder.
I said, "I writ
Christopher Rex
Dec 31, 2011 Christopher Rex rated it really liked it
If you're looking for a dry, sarcastic humor in a fast-paced and funny "novel", this is your book. Though it is called a "novel", it is hard to believe the book isn't almost entirely non-fiction.

Set in the Soviet Union, the bitter-humorous acceptance of the failures of Communism makes for great short-chapters and stories of life within a failing system, lubricated heavily with vodka and other alcohol.

The story starts with the author's son finding an old suitcase in his closet (in America). Insid
Oct 17, 2015 Deni rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
hermoso libro
Anastasia Caezar
Что ж, знакомство с творчеством Довлатова увенчалось успехом. Подкупили стиль и манера изложения, простота, остроумие и тонкая авторская ирония. Некоторые строки заставляли смеяться, некоторые погружали в состояние светлой грусти. По прочтении захотелось пойти на кухню, достать старый самовар (которого на самом деле нет), заварить крепкого чаю, разлить его по чашкам в горошек и погрузившись в ностальгию, заесть всю эту прелесть связкой сушек. Но что там, я не жила во времена СССР и даже считаю, ...more
Joel Fishbane
The government of the Soviet Union (1922 - 1991) produced an army of disasters in their day, but no one can ever fault them for giving us Sergei Dovlatov. Born just after the Nazis invaded Mother Russia, Dovltaov would survive the war and go on to be a soldier, prison guard and journalist before escaping to the United States. Anticipating "creative non-fiction" years before the term was ever invented, Dovlatov wrote in a terse, comical style in the voice of a narrator created in his own image. T ...more
Nazbanou Nozari
Oct 02, 2014 Nazbanou Nozari rated it it was amazing
Dovlatov is a simple genius. A genius without glory and thunder, just a stripped down genius with an incredible sense of humor to wrap the darkest moments in. With a few simple sentences he takes you right to the heart of misery, then with the cleverest of twists makes you feel that it's really not that bad after all. The Suitcase is a little thin book that manages to leave you with a taste of Stolichnaya on your tongue, a few snowflakes on your hair and a heavy heart you can't quite find a reas ...more
Nenad Vukusic
May 07, 2014 Nenad Vukusic rated it it was amazing
The Suitcase is a collection of stories about the contents of the suitcase Dovlatov brings with him, when leaving the USSR in the early 70ies. Each and every item, from pea green Finnish synthetic socks to good quality shoes stolen from a politician during a monument revealing ceremony is a story. Short and simple sentences woven together into a complex tapestry of emotion, characters, even history. Being Croatian, I am reading these in Croatian, but have every intention of picking up Dovlatov i ...more
Dec 23, 2015 Sara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: slv, 2015
Si portano via tutto, piastrelle, gesso, polietilene, motori elettrici, bulloni, viti, valvole termoioniche, fili, vetri.
Spesso tutto ciò assume un carattere metafisico. Parlo dei furti assolutamente arcani, privi di qualsivoglia ragionevole scopo. Sono sicuro che in questa forma esistono solo in Russia.
Conoscevo un uomo fine, d'animo nobile, istruito, che si era portato via dalla fabbrica un secchio di malta di cemento che, strada facendo, ovviamente, si era solidificato. Lo scippatore aveva
Ivana Hajdinić
Nov 17, 2015 Ivana Hajdinić rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
" Ne žalim što smo živjeli siromašno. Ako je za vjerovati Hemingwayju, siromaštvo je piscu nezamjenjiva škola. Siromaštvo čovjeka čini oštoumnim. I tako dalje.
Zanimljivo je da je Hemingway to shvatio tek kad je postao bogat... "
Anna Piskur
еще очень давно, я даже не могу вспомнить в каком туре, читала у кого-то отзыв на эту книгу в рамках Барсумской Рулетки. Отзыв был настолько хорош, что книга вскорости появилась у меня на электронной книжке. А такое бывает очень-очень редко. Оценки на книгу тоже везде довольно высокие, так что логично, что я ожидала чего-то очень хорошего. Возможно, остроумного, возможно, смешного.
В итоге же все вышло несколько иначе... Возможно, дело во мне: не жила в СССР, нет еще 20 лет, возможно, не доросла.
Jun 25, 2014 Aura rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Divertido y mordaz. Tiene una narrativa fluida y un tanto cínica. Es una especie de escritor vagabundo, despreocupado e indiferente que no tiene empacho en exhibir su falta de convicción con la vida, su falta de compromiso. Uno entre pocos, un cínico y sarcástico entre un océano de escritores solemnes y llorones. Y en efecto: un libro es una maleta.
May 27, 2015 Stosch rated it really liked it
Shelves: russia-lol
the last story is too funny. the compromise and pushkin hills are alot better but that last story, man LOL
Mar 14, 2013 Felicia rated it really liked it
This collection of short stories recalls Dovlatov's life in the Soviet Union through items he brought to the US when he left. It is a charming book, although there are points where it becomes less funny and more sad. Still, definitely worth reading.
Ivo Crnolatac
Apr 12, 2011 Ivo Crnolatac rated it it was amazing
Great Idea for a book, brilliantly executed. Guess it is a bit less entertaining for someone who did not live behind the iron curtain, where reality was sometimes more bizarre than fiction.
Kelsey Dangelo
Dec 27, 2014 Kelsey Dangelo rated it liked it
When Dovlatov left the USSR, he was only allowed one suitcase. In the suitcase is a collection of clothes he acquired through various means, which he relates in this autobiographical novel. Mostly, the novel is a series of comedic vignettes of an unobtrusive unautonomous man finding himself wrapped up in the antics of thieves, filmmakers, journalists, artists, bureaucrats, and, most of all, drunks. There’s lots of vodka. A quick read with a few chuckles. If there’s anything noteworthy or memorab ...more
Oct 16, 2014 Jeremy rated it liked it
This book isn't that bad, contrary to what my rating shows. It's more that it's not much of a book.

The suitcase is about the associated stories with each item found in an old suitcase. It was interesting to read about Russian life and culture and personalities.

But it's not too far from reading somebody's blog. There's no character arc in the stories, like you usually expect from short stories. No twist ending, no deep meaning. They are entertaining and well written, but there's just not much t
Oct 03, 2015 L rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorite
I want to marry Russian humor!
Dec 29, 2014 Farzane rated it liked it
البته به نظرم 2.5 براش خوبه
Jan 24, 2016 Vanja rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Naklada Ljevak, 2013.

Kovčeg je jedna veoma iskrena pripovijest o stvarima koje je mladi pripovjedač (po svoj prilici sâm Dovlatov, iako vjerojatno ne potpuno autobiografski) kroz svojih 36 godina prikupio i ponio sa sobom u emigraciju. Nakon emigracije one su mu u novom svijetu značile toliko da ih nije ni iz kovčega izvadio. Godinama kasnije, kovčeg, u kutu ormara, otkriva njegov sinčić, što izazove erupciju sjećanja na život i događaje kojima je prošao i iz kojih je proizašlo vlasništvo
Apr 07, 2015 Jacob rated it it was ok
The Suitcase calls itself a novel. It gets away with this because each story is centered on memories of things he finds in an old suitcase. This framing device would be fine if it felt like it wove between them in any meaningful way. Instead it feels like he needed something to make a weekend writing session into something publishable. In lieu of fleshing out a character driven opus about the absurdity of Soviet Russia, we are given snippets of what feels like the author’s own experiences withou ...more
May 02, 2015 atwiglikeme rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Obožavam kada samo na prepad odaberem roman i na kraju sama sebe nagradim dobrim štivom. Da, da, iz nekog neobjašnjivog razloga totalno padam na Ruse (mene očito lektire u srednjoj nisu ubile u pojam), pa sam se nekako nadala da će mi i ovaj roman sjesti... Barem onako – prolazno, no, na kraju me očarao.
Roman je kratak, jedva nešto više od 150 stranica sa hrpom proreda, a svodi se na nekoliko poglavlja (pripovjedaka) u kojima Dovlatova u prošlost vraćaju predmeti koje je sa sobom iz Sovjetske Ru
Apr 18, 2015 Olea rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Printre scriitorii nepublicati in Uniunea Sovietica, dar cu mare succes in Occident, in acest caz in Statele Unite, este si Serghei Dovlatov care i-a cucerit pe americani, stirnindu-i invidia amicala lui Kurt Vonnegut, care s-a nascut in State, a luptat pentru aceasta tara si totusi care nu a reusit sa fie inca publicat in The New Yorker, cind Dovlatov a fost aproape instantaneu considerat spre publicare (al doilea scriitor rus dupa Vladimir Nabokov, care a aparut in prestigiosul jurnal). Scriit ...more
Несколько рассказов связанных с вещами в его чемодане.
Творчество Довлатова слабовато... описывает (свою) бытовую жизнь, немного пошло, много алкоголя и сигарет. Но нет света в конце туннеля. Нет высокой мысли, светлой цели, души, что-ли.
Rick Skwiot
Aug 22, 2013 Rick Skwiot rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A funny, caustic, clever and perceptive insider’s view of Soviet Union dysfunction—and its dysfunctional, alcoholic people—crafted in a series of quasi-fictional vignettes by one of its victims. The book depicts the surreal, threadbare and hopeless lives of those cynically resigned to their dark fate in a corrupt and ill-conceived system that all strive to outwit, if only to get a free drink or warm hat. As Dovlatov writes: “Once I watched a documentary about Paris during the Occupation. Crowds ...more
Mervin Rosales
Aug 11, 2015 Mervin Rosales rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Primer libro de un escritor Ruso que leo, me ha gustado mucho, me sorprende lo difícil que era conseguir productos occidentales en la antigua Unión Sovietica. El humor negro de Dovlatov es genial.
Mar 13, 2014 Zach rated it liked it
Great idea for a novel composed of stories. Often, though, the stories are so internal to the character that reading them feels like reading someone's notes for a story.
Fedor Sumkin
Oct 09, 2015 Fedor Sumkin rated it it was amazing
Every little thing can remind us everything.
What will be if you'll open your forgotten suitcase containing many of them?
Stories will rise.
Sep 29, 2015 Gunay rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It is a collection of short stories, even memories that writer recalls when looks inside his suitcase. Every item in the suitcase belongs to the past, the life in USSR.

A simply written, quick read.
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Сергей Довлатов
SERGEI DOVLATOV was born in Ufa, Bashkiria (U.S.S.R.), in 1941. He dropped out of the University of Leningrad after two years and was drafted into the army, serving as a guard in high-security prison camps. In 1965 he began to work as a journalist, first in Leningrad and then in Tallinn, Estonia. After a period of intense harassment by the authorities, he emigrated to the United St
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“There's a reason every book, even one that isn't very serious, is shaped like a suitcase” 9 likes
“Our life is but a grain of sand in the indifferent ocean of infinity.” 9 likes
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