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A Matter оf Death аnd Life

3.75  ·  Rating Details ·  731 Ratings  ·  49 Reviews
Marital troubles?
Sick of life?
Suicide the answer?
Why not get yourself a contract killer?
Nothing easier, provided you communicate only by phone and box number. You give him your photograph, specify when and where to find you, then sit back and prepare to die.

Murdered, you will be of greater interest than ever you were in life. More to him than met the eye will be the jud
...more
Paperback, UK, 112 pages
Published September 22nd 2006 by Vintage (first published 1999)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Moeen
Jul 04, 2015 Moeen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novel
بعد سالها یه کتابو تو یه نشست خوندم، چسبید ...more
Fatma
Dec 03, 2012 Fatma rated it really liked it
What can I say? I have a bias for Russian satire, and I freely admit that. I've been thinking about this for a couple of days, about why this particular genre speaks to me. I think a big part of this is because I feel like I, and my entire generation, cannot bear to hear the truth in its pure form. It needs to come to us as a parody, even a caricature, of itself, and that is why satire is so forceful and stays with us long after we've finished reading.

The premise is ludicrous. Tolya decides tha
...more
Jayaprakash Satyamurthy
A satirical novel from a former Soviet writer carries with it a huge burden of expectation; anything of that nature from the part of the world that we used to loosely call 'Russia' (actually, the Ukraine in Kurkov's case) is always going to be measures against masters of the form like Gogol and Bulgakov, who happen to also be two writers whom I hold in very high esteem. This particular novella certainly falls short of such illustrious exemplars, but is quite a diverting read on its own. It follo ...more
Bookaholic
Prieten drag, tovarăș al răposatului este cea mai recentă traducere din Andrei Kurkov (Editura Curtea Veche, 2012, traducere din limba rusă de Antoaneta Olteanu, 120 de pagini), cel mai cunoscut și aclamat autor ucrainean care scrie, cu mici excepții, în limba rusă. Și-a început cariera literară pe când era paznic la o închisoare din Odessa, din 1996 dedicându-se exclusiv scrisului. A fost întâmpinat de critica literară cu entuziasm, fiind tradus în peste 30 de limbi. Scriitorul însuși are poveș ...more
Al
Aug 15, 2016 Al rated it really liked it
A melancholy, sardonic read. I much prefer the one with the penguin by this author. I appreciate the humour, but ... it's just so miserable.
Tfitoby
Mar 09, 2012 Tfitoby rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lit, translation
After Death and the Penguin I'd been eager to read more from Kurkov, despite having The Good Angel of Death sitting on my shelf it was the pleasure of finding an attractive and slim novella of this title on the non-fiction shelf of a local bookstore that finally got me enthused enough to take a second helping of the king (tsar? something else more relevant?) of post-Soviet literature.

The jacket compares Kurkov to Nikolai Gogol and Fyodor Dostoyevsky but with no experience of either of those auth
...more
Suad Shamma
Nov 23, 2012 Suad Shamma rated it liked it
Shelves: own, 2012
The premise of this novel was a lot more promising than it turned out to be. The idea of arranging to have yourself assassinated because you are so sick of life, yet not able to commit suicide, is very appealing. And also very easy to relate to I think. Many of us have at one point or another given it a thought or two, perhaps not seriously, but fleetingly. Murdered, you will be of greater interest than you ever were in your life. Murdered, your memory will last forever.

Yet, for Tolya, things do
...more
Elena
Aug 22, 2012 Elena rated it liked it
Proiectată într-un univers gri şi absurd, în Kievul postsovietic, drama personajului creat de Kurkov e destul de banală. Cărţi despre sinucidere (mereu pe un ton ironic) am citit în ultima vreme de m-am săturat. Dar Tolia, prea laş din fire pentru a-şi face singur felul şi dorind ceva original, angajează un altul să-i pună capăt zilelor. Şi acesta ar fi în mod normal un subiect răsuflat, dacă autorul n-ar fi venit cu un final surprinzător, diferit de variantele Hollywoodiene.

Recenzia mea complet
...more
Mihai Savu
Dec 27, 2013 Mihai Savu rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was my first book by this author and I loved it. The theme life doesn't count but at least the death should is not new, not even in this comedy setup. The book covers very well the hesitations of the main character, his reasoning, the preparations for his own death, the projection of this action in the news. Will he succeed to die in a meaningful way?

The story is somehow similar to the plot in Romanian movie Tache. The characters have different reasons to die, but they both want their death
...more
sareh  amini
May 16, 2016 sareh amini rated it really liked it
از طنز شروع مي شه و فكر مي كني با طنز تلخي سر و كار داري رفته رفته مي رسي به جايي كه مي بيني با يك تراژدي زندگي انسانهايي كه انگار روح ندارند سر و كار داري ، هدف ندارند ، زندگيشون در سطحي ترين بي معني ترين حالت خودش مي گذره بي هيچ تفكر عميقي .. كاراكترهاي داستان با پلتشتي ، بي وفايي ، مرگ ، فقر خيلي راحت كنار ميان و زندگي رو بي معني تر از هر چيزي جلوه مي كنند . كليد ارامش خشونت و كشتن است پشت هيچ كارشون تفكري نيست با اعمالشون مي گن همينه كه هست . در اين رمان دنيا هرزه اي بيش نيست .
Louise
1 Stars

Bit disappointed with this one. I loved the last Kurkov I read but this was very 'meh'. Very much a 'boring average man suffers from ennui but women fall for him at first sight anyway' sort of book. And the premise of the blurb had so much potential too.
Reinad Abu Rabah
Feb 27, 2016 Reinad Abu Rabah rated it really liked it
This book might be one of those very touching books , somehow ..
Rory Allardice
May 14, 2017 Rory Allardice rated it liked it
While I loved the novel "The President's Last Love" on many levels, this novella was a bit too bleak for me and the "black" part of the comedy too intense. I also felt some aspects of the plot were unresolved, but I will still read more of this author as his good work is very good.
Sam
Feb 18, 2017 Sam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tolya is a drab person living a drab life. This story is not filled with excitement and very little action, just like Tolya's life. But that is precisely what makes the story endearing; no larger-than-life characters leading exceptional lives. Just run-of-the-mill people (shop owners, prostitutes, ex-Afghan War vets, contract killers) trying to make a bit of cash to get by in life. Add in a bit of a twist at the end, and this is an easy non-challenging read.

Dorothee Lang
Dec 29, 2013 Dorothee Lang rated it really liked it
I didn't know the book or author when i picked this - it's another of the chance finds of the Open Telephone Box Book Exchange. But recently, i saw the author in TV, he was interviewed about the current Ukranian protest movement he is part of.

The book itself is written about a decade ago, and has both a humorous, melancholic and philosphical touch: it starts with a man who is overcome by the quiet pointlessness of life, decides to die, and at least make a spectacle / mystery out of his death by
...more
Johann Guenther
Dec 29, 2013 Johann Guenther rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
KURKOW, Andrej: „Ein Freund des Verblichenen“, Zürich 2001
Die Ehe von Tolja hatte sich auseinander gelebt. Seine Frau hat einen Freund. Durch Zufall trifft er einen ehemaligen Schulkollegen, der ihm einen Killer vermittelt, der den Nebenbuhler beseitigen soll. Tolja gibt aber sich selbst als der Freund der Frau aus. Fotografiert sich selbst und macht einen Treffpunkt aus, wo ihn der Profikiller töten soll. Die letzten Stunden denkt er über sein Leben nach und überlegt, was er alles noch erledige
...more
Louis
Dec 09, 2012 Louis rated it really liked it
Shelves: russian
I'm on a bit of a novella kick at the moment. Maybe it's the heat, and a baby keeping me occupied, which both make books I can finish in one commute pretty attractive prospects. Maybe it's the thought of tackling one of the bricks I've had sitting on my shelves for ages next year (Moby Dick, War and Peace, The Brothers Karamazov, A la Recherché de Tempus Perdu...I think that's all) and the time I've spent with the Mishima that makes finishability enticing, but whatever. It's good. I love it. Thi ...more
Benino
Mar 12, 2016 Benino rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A well-paced and structured tale, Kurkov draws on the tradition of 'byt' - the everyday - in Russian/post-Soviet literature to reflect on brutal relationships where each individual is ultimately replaceable by another. Life is merely the consumption of food, alcohol, coffee, and chocolate, and killings in between. As the economy collapses, meaning is perceived only in the kill or be killed ethics where everything is valueless, and yet can be paid for in dollars.

Kurkov's sardonic tale features u
...more
Andrew
Apr 11, 2013 Andrew rated it really liked it
A good quick read,capturing in a pared-down hundred pages,a moden dilemma for the romantic,perhaps melodramatic & self-absorbed, soul in post-Stalinist Kiev, Ukraine;where market forces have yet to infiltrate through to all of society; hiring a hit-man to put you out of your misery is a comically hit-and-miss affair, & where the love of a good woman,or two,provides our protagonist with much of the energy to continue his almost pitiless existence, with the support of eternal verities (emp ...more
Alain
Le h?ros de cette histoire, Tolia, est pris d'une violente d?prime et veut en finir avec la vie. Comme il n'a pas assez de courage pour se faire exploser la t?te tout seul, il embauche un tueur dont il est lui-m?me la cible. Le probl?me est qu'il finit par reprendre go?t ? la vie et l?, il est bien emb?t?. Ce roman est en quelque sorte le pr?curseur du Pingouin. L'auteur d?veloppe la th?se de l'absurde qui devient r?alit?. Mais contrairement aux romans suivants il n'y a pas de r?f?rences politiq ...more
Dragan Sorin
Aug 10, 2015 Dragan Sorin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
O carte palpitanta care se citeste relativ usor si foarte rapid, plina de suspans, de personaje atragatoare si o categorie aparte de umor pe alocuri. Neapeland la descrieri inutile, autorul pune accentul pe necesar, actiunea se desfasoara cursiv si intr-un ritm accelerat, iar finalul reflecta umanitatea personajului principal caruia soarta ii schimba perceptia asupra conceptului de moarte. Singurul inconvenient ramane dimensiunea redusa a cartii deoarece in final raman cateva idei neexploatate.
Ben
Sep 09, 2016 Ben rated it liked it
It says a lot that I stared at the title of this in my note book and couldn't remember what the hell it was until I typed it into here. Now that I do though I can tell you it was fine. It's got some of Kurkov's usual deadpan dark humour in its concept and I remember most of the story beats now, but it's quite slight and short. It's a decent enough distraction, but don't expect it to be up there with his best.
Pardis Parto
Sep 13, 2015 Pardis Parto rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
«دوست مرحوم من» آندره کورکوف، از سویی قصه ویرانی و نابودی زندگی شخصی یک جوان سیساله اوکراینی است، اما از منظری دیگر تصویری از وضعیت اوکراین بعد از فروپاشی اتحاد جماهیر شوروی نیز هست و راوی داستان نماد جوانان روشنفکری است که وارث انفعال و بیعملی وضعیت پیشیناند. آنها اگرچه پیشازاین به وضعیت سابق معترض بودهاند، اما در جامعه بعد از فروپاشی تا مغز استخوان گرفتار بیعملی، پوچی و ناامیدیاند. دیوارها فرو ریخته و از بین رفته، اما انفعال و ناامیدی مثل بختکی روی آدمها افتاده و سخت جانی میکند. ...more
Cat {Wild Night In}
The start was brilliant, the main character likeable, the plot wonderfully absurd. It had everything going for it until the ending loomed into view. Then it just didn't deliver the punch I'd been half-expecting, even though Death and the Penguin left me with exactly the same feeling afterwards.
Kostas
Nov 02, 2013 Kostas rated it liked it
Bizarre but entertaining short story in which everyday reality and the absurd go hand in hand. You will need some time to get used to the writing style as Russian doesn't always translate elegantly into English, but it's worth investing into it if you are looking for something simultaneously funny, weird and existentialist.
Lori
Nov 10, 2015 Lori rated it liked it
Unemployed and stuck in a failing marriage, Tolya wants to end it all. He doesn’t want to kill himself, so hires a hitman to avoid having to commit suicide. The story is about what happens after. The plot is silly and the ending somewhat unsatisfying, but it’s a nice, light, short read that won’t tax the brain too much.
Mehwish Mughal
Jun 11, 2014 Mehwish Mughal rated it it was amazing
I picked up the book because of its bizarre plot and because I wanted to entertain myself with something other than philosophy/science. I barely remember the last time I read fiction so this was a pleasurable experience for my brain :)

The book is a page-turner, flows nicely, has a wildly creative story and is completely immersed with dark humour!

Mescalitoeyes
Jul 23, 2015 Mescalitoeyes rated it liked it
Nice short book, not sure if the translator is different in this from the other novels I have read of his but didn't seem to flow as well. Can be read in a few hours though and still a great idea for a book.
Ryan Moore
Aug 23, 2011 Ryan Moore rated it liked it
Dry, lumbering tale, still trying to figure out how I feel about it. Well written, quick read. Circuitous and Circular. I loved his book Death and the Penguin -- this one definitely shows the promise to come of an artist developing the craft
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Ukrainian writer writing in Russian. He was born in small town Budogoszcz in Leningrad area, Russia, but his family moved to Kyiv, Ukraine when he was young. In 1983 he graduated Kyiv Pedagogical Academy of Foreign Languages. Later he also completed a Japanese translation training. He started writing in age of six and he had a hobby of collecting cactuses - he collected nearly 1,500 of them. Ambit ...more
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