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Fur Hat

3.89  ·  Rating Details ·  246 Ratings  ·  24 Reviews
In this satire of Soviet life, an insecure but much-published novelist, Yefim Rakhlin, learns that the Writers' Union is giving fur hats to its members based on their importance, and that he rates only fluffy tomcat. Translated by Susan Brownsberger.
Paperback, 132 pages
Published March 28th 1991 by Mariner Books (first published 1988)
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October 2012

Soviet writer Yefim Rakhlin writes about "decent people," fearless adventurers whose conflicts with nature create no controversy, challenge no one, and pass the censors with ease. So when the Writer's Union begins to give fur hats to its members in order of importance, Rakhlin is eager to see where he stands. He is not important enough to earn one of reindeer fawn, of course, but surely he is worthy of rabbit? Perhaps even fox fur? No, best not be too ambitious; a rabbit fur hat woul

Released from - Wallingford Public Library

My bookmark is emerald green tooled leather celtic cross.

Translated by Susan Brownsberger

Opening: Whenever Yelim Semyonovich Rakhlin was asked what his next book would be about he lowered his eyes, smiled, and replied, "I always write about decent people."

There is a parody of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion around page 34 that somehow I didn't find funny at all, left a nasty taste in my mouth - the Russian fear of Zionist controlled Freemasonary is a
Chuck LoPresti
Dec 12, 2012 Chuck LoPresti rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very much like the humor in Orkeny's Toth Family, a bit of tragedy lends gravity to this delightful satire of the life of a writer in the Soviet era. If you've read Moscow to the End of the Line you'll be in familiar territory - if you haven't - you probably don't drink enough. While not as outrageously funny as Toth Family - you'll be just as imformed as the locals when you understand how the social subversion works here. Nothing brilliant about the prose here but nothing difficult to read ...more
Bill Keefe
First time reading Voinovich and was thoroughly delighted. A little nervous that what I was laughing at was only reinforcing my stereotypes of the Soviet Union / Russia. It was a complete send-up of the bankrupt Soviet system, and the people you'd expect to meet in it. Still, in a very brief story - more a short story or novella - he develops a wide range of interesting characters and and puts together a good, moving plot.

The bittersweet ending provides the most powerful and important moment of
Feb 27, 2007 Jessica rated it it was amazing
A morbidly hysterical satire on Soviet life. Like Bulgokov's Heart of a Dog and Master and Margarita, it's black humor stems from the fact that the most grotesque and ludicrous incidents in the book are the closest to the truth.
Feb 15, 2008 Christa rated it really liked it
I read this book a while ago and have recently decided to reread some of my favorites from the past. I was happy to find that I enjoyed reading this now as much as I did the first time. It is a brillant satire.
Kobe Bryant
Aug 22, 2014 Kobe Bryant rated it liked it
Lets be honest here folks, he didnt deserve a better hat
Nov 01, 2016 Chocolategoddess rated it liked it
Shelves: other
I'm sure this book has many depths I don't understand. It's clearly satire of a period of Russian history I know very little about.

That said, I was recommended this book by someone as I whined about writing a certain part of one of my books. She suggested this book as a good example of whatever I was having trouble with. I bought it, I got distracted, I now have no idea what problem I was having. Ah well.

For me, this book shows how people will lose their minds over the pettiest thing. Here, it's
Robyn Latchford
Nov 19, 2016 Robyn Latchford rated it really liked it
I randomly grabbed a book by Voinovich in a second-hand bookstore called "The Life and Extraordinary Adventures of Private Ivan Chonkin", also a Soviet Satire like "The Fur Hat". When I say satire, it's not subtle, hidden, obscure, clever satire like some Soviet writers managed to write in a brilliant way, but very biting, blatant satire. If he wrote during Stalin's lifetime, I think it's likely he would have...disappeared and been erased from all the pictures. Since he wrote in the 70's, he ...more
Oct 15, 2016 Nikmaack rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fun, short satire of the Soviet Union, and a man's quest to get the recognition he doesn't deserve. Light and fluffy, while also dark and depressing, this book was fun to read. Bought it on holiday while in Philadelphia at a used bookstore, randomly plucked from the shelf.
Feb 06, 2012 Susan rated it it was amazing
This little book is wondrously funny. Like any good satire, there are biting portrayals of inanity. But Voinovich has such insight that I found myself stunned by the multiple layers of human folly revealed with an economy of dialog and a pared down plot (pared down, but with plenty of surprises). My god, if I could only read the original Russian! Kudos to the translator, Brownsberger. I'm not an expert on Soviet life, but I can say that Fur Hat is delightfully Russian. This is a world more ...more
Sep 19, 2015 Polina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: Русские
Гений прозы.
Читаешь - и не знаешь, плакать ли, смеяться, сердце разрывается от эмоций, от переживаний за человека. Что за жизнь! Как живут люди! Погрязают в низости, в грязи, и сами становятся такими же, и вроде как обвинить их? - это из-за непроницаемой тьмы жизни вокруг, и даже если борешься, не выходит. И все же это неправда. Сдаются слабые. Всегда можно найти в себе силы противостоять низости, грубости, тупости, лживости, трусости. Трусость, превращающая людей в мышей, в пресмыкающихся. Всег
Oct 09, 2010 Shawn rated it really liked it
Classic Voinovich -- which sounds funny (Classic Nikitich from Moscow 2042)... Like Ivankiad, a writer decides not to take an everyday injustice, and the novel lays out the absurdly spiraling set of consequences. Not so successful for the hero as in Invankiad, but he earns a sort of Pyrrhic victory brought on by the same forces which he has tried valiantly all his life NOT to chronicle in his own 11 novels. It's a witty novel, but not quite as much as the jacket blurbs proclaim. But it is good ...more
Aaron Cance
Jul 08, 2012 Aaron Cance rated it really liked it
Voinovich is probably best known for his opus, The Life and Extraordinary Adventures of Private Ivan Chonkin, but this shorter work about the Soviet Russian literati is, hands-down, one of the funnier books I've ever had the pleasure of reading. Yefim Rakhlin has built a successful literary career penning page-a-minute adventure/thrillers with characters who are all "decent and fearless" people. He's very excited to discover that the Writer's Union is going to award fur hats to all of its ...more
Nov 25, 2009 Pavel rated it really liked it
Hysterical satire on soviet hierarchy perversions.
Idea of the book: all writers are divided by the State into strict categories: "known" "well-known" "talented", "noticable", "outstanding", "great", "greatest", etc (which by the way was totally so, nothing invented here). According to this differentiation writers are given with Hats made of different fur. "Known" gets "flat cat, midiocre fuzziness" , "talanted" gets rabbit, "outstanding" - musquash etc.
Nevermind it's Russia and it's cold. Write
Jun 15, 2010 Pam rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book. I needed a quick read and we, of course, have plenty of Russian related books on our shelves. This is a satirical story about a Russian writer who thinks more of his writing than anyone else does. He is livid when his writing is insulted by the type of hat he is given in the hierarchy of hats for writers. I was frequently surprised by twists and turns and I loved not being able to expect what was to happen next. Warning: There is some language.
Oct 15, 2012 Neale rated it really liked it
Voinovich's novella is a very funny satire on the idiocies of Soviet literary life - of institutional life in general. Forget Solzhenitsyn's impassioned Slavophile rants (Voinovich parodies him mercilessly in 'Moscow 2042') - it was this kind of cosmopolitan cynicism that brought down the Soviet Union. A delightful book.
Dec 02, 2012 Chris rated it it was ok
While this book wasn't the worst of the Soviet novels I've read, it still fit into that very archetypal form they all seem to have. A lot of the characters run together and seem to represent ideas rather than forming multi-dimensional characters.
Nadine rated it liked it
Nov 24, 2016
Enrico Stanic
Enrico Stanic rated it it was amazing
Feb 14, 2011
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Vladimir Voinovich (Владимир Николаевич Войнович) was born in what is now Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan, but which at the time of his birth was Stalinabad, a city in the USSR.

Voinovich started writing and publishing poetry during the army service; he later switched to writing prose and ultimately became famous as a master of satirical depiction of the absurdity of Soviet life. However, he d
More about Vladimir Voinovich...

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