Omon Ra
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Omon Ra

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3.89 of 5 stars 3.89  ·  rating details  ·  2,848 ratings  ·  136 reviews
Victor Pelevin's novel Omon Ra has been widely praised for its poetry and its wickedness, a novel in line with the great works of Gogol and Bulgakov: "full of the ridiculous and the sublime," says The Observer [London]. Omon is chosen to be trained in the Soviet space program the fulfillment of his lifelong dream. However, he enrolls only to encounter the terrifying absurd...more
Paperback, 154 pages
Published February 17th 1998 by New Directions (first published 1992)
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The Master and Margarita by Mikhail BulgakovOne Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr SolzhenitsynLife and Fate by Vasily GrossmanRoadside Picnic by Arkady StrugatskyCancer Ward by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
Best Post WWII Soviet Lit
27th out of 47 books — 54 voters
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Books set in Moscow
40th out of 50 books — 17 voters


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David
In between the time I purchased Victor Pelevin's Omon Ra and the time I started reading it, I skimmed an article somewhere that claimed Pelevin was inspired by and indebted to Mikhail Bulgakov. This was not good news. The Master and Margarita by Bulgakov is one of my most hated novels of all time. If I can't easily articulate what it is I hate about it so passionately, I feel that if anyone were to ask me, 'What kinds of novels don't you like to read?' I could point to a ready-to-hand copy of Th...more
Mariel
Apr 17, 2013 Mariel rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: wore the same hoodie every day like mum-ra
Recommended to Mariel by: omon is an anagram of the moon
Sometimes I remembered my childhood, sometimes I used to imagine what the rapid approach of the final moment before eternity would feel like. And sometimes I tried to finish off really old thoughts that resurfaced into consciousness. For instance, I thought about the question "Who am I?"

In ancient times it was myths before science.

A head wrapped in foil, built into a model aircraft. The aircraft built to contain the plasticine figure. There's no door. A hatch drawn on the outside, and on the in...more
Hadrian
Omon Ra is a fun little book about the Soviet space program. Much of the humor relies on a heavy context of Soviet society, but there's also some crude slapstick, one of the best kinds. My favorite parts were when Dr. Henry Kissinger stabbed the man in a bear suit and when the tampon fell out of the cosmonaut's nose.

The book is not just silly humor and puns though. There's something stranger and more mystical here, and the slow-burning pain of the narrator's own life. The moon is not a place of...more
Eddie Watkins
It is possible I will read too much Pelevin and his resolute stance - which for now turns me on with its playful but surprisingly earnest blend of satire, wild imagination, individual freedom, practical application of meditative practices and exploration of mind – will morph into clownish posturing and I will feel a watery neon sickness rising in my throat, but for now… I will keep reading him until I vomit.

Omon Ra is essentially a dystopian coming of age novel in which the hero's childhood drea...more
Andrew
Sep 13, 2008 Andrew added it
Shelves: russian-fiction
Fucking funny as hell. The sort of jet black, Bulgakov sense of humor comes out in spades. Lectures on the Marxist-Leninist dialectic of the Moon, socialist messages in outer space, arguments about Pink Floyd, all are found in this decidedly surreal, madcap, quasi-sci-fi adventure, perfect for both fans of Russian literature (I'll count myself in that camp) and those of you who can't sit through Dostoyevsky.
Casey (Myshkin) Buell
Omon Ra is a fun, poignant, and ultimately powerful satire of the Soviet state, and on a deeper level, a meditation on human longing and the will to be free. Omon's absurd journey from dreaming child to Soviet Cosmonaut will first delight you, then break your heart. Pelevin writes with a beautiful spare style, which allows him to pack a lot of story into this small book. With an economy of words he brings to life the nightmarish world of Soviet "efficiency" and national hubris; a world of willfu...more
Vrinda Pendred
Oh how I love Russian sci-fi, so much more meaning than western variations usually have. Reminded me strongly of Bulgakov, which is always good. Dreamlike, surreal, absurd and darkly funny but always poignant and moving in that classic Russian way. The ending was excellent, and I spent the whole next day turning over the symbolism woven into the story and drawing out meanings. Checked out the full lyrics to Pink Floyd's 'Echoes' too, which really added to the book.
Tara
Absurd and disturbingly poignant, reading Pelevin's 'Omon Ra' feels akin to taking LSD and staring at a child's mobile of the solar system as the drug wears off (possibly while suspended in a harness, wearing full SCUBA gear and after several months of eating only star-shaped noodles in a bland chicken and cabbage broth as your sole form of sustenance).

It runs the full course of: normality - LSD - coming down from LSD - becoming aware of new surroundings - questioning new surroundings - question...more
Darran Mclaughlin
Great debut novel from Pelevin. Omon Ra is a worthy descendent of the great Russian literary tradition stretching back through the likes of Platanov, Bulgakov and Gogol. It begins as an earnest exploration of the burgeoning yearning and idealism of Omon who decides he wants to be a Cosmonaut. Eventually he gets his wish as the Soviet Union feels compelled to respond quickly to the Americans making it to the moon. What begins as a bildungsroman evolves into to a satire on the insanity of the Sovi...more
Michael Burnam-fink
Omon Ra is dark. How dark? Think Kafka shooting krokodil in a Siberian prison camp imagined by J.G. Ballard and then Iain Banks devours the whole thing with a black hole. Sub-infra-black doesn't even begin to describe how dark it is. That said, this is the wonderful and magical story of young man who dreams of flight and joins the cosmonaut program, only to learn that the Soviet space program is less than it seems. It's a mediation on the theater of Soviet heroism, Stakhanovite exceptionalism, a...more
Pooriya
فکر کردم که هر چند به‌نظر می‌رسد ما انسان‌ها به یکدیگر برخورد می‌کنیم و می‌خندیم و بر شانه‌ی هم می‌زنیم و بعد به راه خود می‌رویم، ولی همزمان در بُعدی مستقل که آگاهی‌مان جرئت نگاه کردن به آن را ندارد، ما بی‌هیچ حرکتی در محاصره‌ی خلأمعلق‌ایم، بی‌سروته، بی‌دیروز و فردا، بی‌این امید که به‌هم نزدیک‌تر شویم یا حتا ذره‌ای سرنوشت خود را تغییر دهیم. قضاوت‌مان از آن‌چه برای دیگران اتفاق می‌افتد نور پُرنیرنگی است که به ما می‌رسد و تمام طول زندگی‌مان به سوی آن‌چه تصور می‌کنیم نور است پیش‌رَوی می‌کنیم درحالی...more
Stephen
One of the most creative and surprising books on this list, "Omon Ra" is the first person narrative of a young man who undergoes bizarre training to become a hero cosmonaut in the Soviet space program. From the outset, the astounding "technology" supposedly capable of producing space flight is set in a context of incredible shabbiness and sinisterness. Soon we learn that Soviet space flight is all accomplished by means of self-sacrificing heroes who, for example, unscrew one rocket stage from an...more
Patrick
Shit is Victor Pelevin cool.

Nearly every passage of his I read, I think "this is exactly how i'd like to write . . . if i did write". It's creepy, smart, twisted, creepy, sci-fi-y, creepy, dark, creepy and to the point. I love that Pelevin decides what message he wants to relay to his reader, thinks of how to project it in a fun, creative way, adds a healthy does of "dark", and then just says it. As a writer of novellas, he doesn't pad or fluff his works and says what he needs to say in a way a...more
Alireza
کتاب اومون‌را کتاب طنز تلخی ست. طنز است چون مسخره می کند، تلخ است چون نمی خنداند. تزویر حکومت کمونیستی شوروی را مسخره می کند اما نمی خنداند چون انسانیت را هدف قرار داده. جان انسان هایی که در عملیات های ابلهانه ی شوروی به اسم قهرمان گرایی از بین رفته. احمقانه از بین رفته. کتاب در تقابل دو مفهوم حماقت و شقاوت داستانش را روایت می کند. داستانی که آشکارا دغدغه های بزرگترش را نمایان می کند. بشر چیست؟ آزادی چیست؟ حد آزادی کجاست؟ زندگی چیست؟ دیدن چیست؟ ما که هستیم؟ و اشارات مستقیم و غیرمستقیمی از این دس...more
Mohsen Rajabi
داستان پیچیده کتاب، ساده و جذاب است و کمتر برای من پیش آمده که بتوانم این سه توصیف را همزمان از یک کتاب داشته باشم. اطلاعات خوب این کتاب از حکومت شوروی سابق، شباهت هایش با دوران سی ساله اخیر کشور خودمان، سادگی مردم و پیچیدگی اتفاقاتی که برایشان می افتد، همه چنان در روایت مبهم اومون‌را پنهان و آشکار در هم آمیخته اند، که وقتی خواندن کتاب را تمام می کنی، متوجه می شوی که هنوز بهتی عجیب همراهت است.
fatemeh
بخش هایی از کتاب:
وقتی بیدار شدم زمین دیگر معلوم نبود. تنها چیزی که از طریق لنزها می‌دیدم سوسوی محو ستاره‌های دوردست بود. وجود معلق و بی‌تکیه‌گاه یک کره‌ی عظیم و سوزان را تصور کردم در ظلمات سرد، میلیون‌ها کیلومتر دورتر از نزدیک‌ترین ستاره‌ها، آن نقاط کوچک درخشانی که نورشان برای ما تنها گواه وجودشان است چون یک ستاره می‌تواند بمیرد و با این حال نورش میلیون‌ها سال در تمامی جهات حرکت کند. پس ما در حقیقت هیچ چیز راجع به ستارگان نمی‌دانیم جز این که زندگی‌شان وحشتناک و بی‌معناست چراکه تمامی حرکات‌شان در...more
David
Short, witty, and satiric, Omon Ra follows the (rather brief) life of Omon, a Cosmonaut. Upon joining the space program, Omon learns the horrifying truth: Although most Soviet space missions are purported to be automated, they are in fact piloted by Cosmonauts who essentially undertake suicide missions in order to tout the 'space victories' of the Soviet Union. It might not sound very funny, but it is, especially Omon's journey in his ramshackle 'automated moonwalker.'
Ser
Russians do like their political satire, don’t they? Or at least the only satirical books I end up reading seem to be Soviet or ex-Soviet.

I only chose to read this because I had loved ‘The Helmet of Horror’ and was quite intrigued by its author. ‘Omon Ra’ was the only only one available at the library, so I fell down on it like a bird of prey.

I quite liked the beginning, those first chapters when he’s a kid and he’s playing and explaining to us his love of flying. But once he gets admitted in th...more
Philipp
This must be one of the poorest literary efforts I have ever come across. A mundane satirical plot about the farcical elements of the Sovjet space program (and its role in propaganda and party politics). Not even remotely funny. Short and still stuffed with irrelevant plot twists, characters and observations. I am at a loss how so many people can like this book.
Charles
As an author, Pelevin is both a satirist and a mystic. As a Russian, Pelevin satirizes Russia (or the Soviet Union, as the case may be). In order to appreciate a satire, the reader must be familiar with what is being satirized. As a former student of Russia, I can understand some of what Pelevin is mocking, at least enough to make Pelevin's works comprehensible. However, I can't read Pelevin strickly for his satire, because I am in no way knowledgeable enough about every-day real-world Russia to...more
Hamidreza Hosseini
وقتی این کتاب رو میخوندم فقط این به ذهنم میرسید: شوروی ،حکومت تظاهر و دروغ!
و چقدر آشنا بود اتفاقات و حرفهای این کتاب.
واقعا شوک آور بود داستان. از یه جایی به بعد ، ازونجایی که اومون وارد مدرسه نظامی میشه ،دیگه دلم نمیومد کتاب رو زمین بذارم
Valissa
a wonderful mix of psychological fuckery, old Soviet ideology, loner boyhood, and the bittersweet path to adulthood. I really enjoyed this book, it has poetry, apathy, and a foreign flavor that swept me away.
Leonid
With this book I was introduced to the glorius adult book space. Book is insanely metaphysical and allegoric that everyone understands it in various original ways. A must.
Artem Huletski
Осталось неясное ощущение от того, во что превращаются наши мечты и немного грусти о погибших персонажах. Не ожидал, что заденет. Задело.
Neil Randall
Like the mighty Yuri Gagarin, two young Russian boys dream of flying to the moon. When eventually interred into the space training programme, they are subjected to a strange, nightmarish series of aptitude tests, varying in degrees of terrifying, violent, disorientating absurdity.

Pelevin uses both the young boys dreams and the obsessive nature of the space race itself, where two superpowers are constantly trying to outdo each other, as a bleak metaphor for the empty promises of a communist utop...more
Nate
I remember stumbling upon the name of Pelevin many years ago when someone referred to him as a "Russian Douglas Coupland." I've since wondered if I invented this term. He had a book called Generation P aka Homo Zapiens aka Babylon and the association with P and X was obvious. Read about twenty pages of that, seemed promising, but I was not the reader then that I am now. My local library has since removed this book from the shelves. This makes me sad.

Omon Ra, however, was a thrill. It's an unbeli...more
Afshin
یادم می‌آید که ساعت شنی را نگاه می‌کردم و در شگفت بودم که دانه‌های شن چرا این‌قدر آرام از گردن نازک بین دو شیشه پایین می‌افتند. این‌قدر نگاه کردم تا بالاخره دلیلش را فهمیدم؛ هر دانه اراده و خواست خود را داشت و نمی‌خواست فروبغلتد، چون سقوط برای هر کدام‌شان معادل مرگ بود. ولی انتخاب دیگری نداشتند، سقوط‌شان اجتناب‌ناپذیر بود. فکر کردم این دنیا و دنیای دیگر درست شبیه همین ساعت شنی هستند؛ وقتی تمام زندگان در یک جهت بمیرند، واقعیت واژگون می‌شود و همه دوباره حیات پیدا می‌کنند؛ یعنی در جهت مخالف می‌میرن...more
Gerhardt Himmelmann
I found Omon Ra a deliciously odd book with a bleak humour that I associate with stereotypical Eastern Europe. Omon Krivomazov dreams of being a cosmonaut and a hero. This novel traces the story of his betrayal by and disillusionment with the Soviet state.

Pelevin constructs a depiction of the Soviet space program of the 1970s as a shambles and a sham, that manufactures heroes for propaganda purposes. Those who dream of being space explorers are ruthlessly exploited. What’s more, the technology...more
Kevin Tole
Written as the first novel by Viktor Pelevin and published in Russia in 1992 (making it the most up-to-date Russian book in translation I have read) this is a wonderfully sarcastic book on the nature of illusion and heroism.

Written in 1992 it is necessary to put this in its historical context. Brezhnev died in '82 and from that point onwards marked the slow dissolution of the USSR culminating in the rise of Gorbachov, the instigation of glasnost and perestroika and by the end of 1991, the dissol...more
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  • The Foundation Pit
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  • The Compromise
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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...
The Sacred Book of the Werewolf The Life of Insects Generation "П". Повести. Рассказы Buddha's Little Finger Empire V (Вампиры, #1)

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“...what are they but the voice of history multiplied by millions of televisions?” 3 likes
“Ты пойми, милый, что в этом и суть подвига, что его всегда совершает не готовый к нему человек, потому что подвиг - это такая вещь, к которой подготовиться невозможно. То есть можно, например, наловчиться быстро подбегать к амбразуре, можно привыкнуть ловко прыгать на нее грудью, этому всему мы учим, но вот самому духовному акту подвига научиться нельзя, его можно только совершить.” 3 likes
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