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3.87  ·  Rating details ·  5,388 ratings  ·  272 reviews
"Gucci for Men--be a European, smell better". The irresistible rise of Babylen Tartasky from poet to advertising copywriter followed by the short step to ultimate political power is founded on his smart diagnosis of his country's malaise and his ability to encapsulate his compatriots yearnings in a sharp slogan. This is the new Russia of gangsters, fast-flowing cocaine and ...more
Paperback, 250 pages
Published April 17th 2000 by Faber and Faber (first published 1999)
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Average rating 3.87  · 
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 ·  5,388 ratings  ·  272 reviews

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Glenn Russell

"The author's opinions do not necessarily coincide with his point of view." So writes Victor Pelevin as part of his "author's disclaimer" to this bestselling novel marketed under three different titles in English: Homo Zapiens, Babylon and Generation P

"Generation 'P' had no choice in the matter and children of the Soviet seventies chose Pepsi in precisely the same way as their parents chose Brezhnev." When asked by an interviewer what the "P" means, Victor indicated the references are multiple b
The Only Drug You’ll Ever Need

What better therapy could there be for the protagonist, Tatarsky, to cope with the final trauma of the dissolution of the Soviet Union than the invention of advertising slogans? On the other hand, magic mushrooms might achieve the same end, namely, the removal of the “relict [sic] of the Soviet era, the slave mentality he still hadn’t completely squeezed out of himself.” This was necessary in order to play the Game With No Name that has taken over Russia.

The gam
May 24, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: russian
Five stars for a book that I resent? Certainly why not?

From the second that I started to read the book I couldn't quite decide if I liked it or hated it. The book comes off a bit like an elitist ass hole. One of those guys who knows he is smarter than you and decides that instead of acting like a civilized person he is going to prove it to you by, well telling you things that don't make any sense and then acting like they do. and if that is not enough he will include diatribes against things th
Marianna Neal
Jun 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-russian
4.5 out of 5 stars

I first attempted reading this book when I was 17, and I didn't get far—I was quickly appalled by what I managed to read, closed the book, and didn't think I would ever read Victor Pelevin again. Well... I guess the years have made me a lot more cynical because this time around I not only finished the book, but also found it to be fascinating, clever, satirical, quotable, philosophical, and pretty damn funny. But also rather depressing, and still a bit appalling. I guess my cyn
I'd like to think that I have a bit of a Russian soul. I stare down long, snowy views pinned down by the sheer weight of being, lose myself in massive novels, like to think that I fight for the proletariat, and attribute certain cleansing abilities to vodka. However, this is a Russia that is long since dead. The modern Russia is populated by thugs in tracksuits and all manner of slimy manipulators of post-Soviet malaise. This is the Russia Pelevin writes about.

"Once upon a time in Russia there r
May 30, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Victor Pelevin is like a pop culture-savvy and Russian Murakami, or like Tom Robbins but less snarky and less lyrical or something. I LOVE him. This particular novel is really interesting because it approaches the world of advertising from a unexpected perspective: in soviet Russia, the seller is the sucker! Some twists are a little hokey, but the final twist is worth the read. I am a huge fan of Russian authors like Bulgakov, Dostoevsky and co, and he definitely plays around with these classic ...more
Tracy Reilly
Mar 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Mind-blowing book about how propaganda, especially of the commercial kind, literally infects our being. Pelevin is as hilarious as he is deadly in his satire of what drives modern life. The setting is post-Soviet Russia, rushing towards capitalism, but the message can send a depth charge to America as well. The visual of the Russian Parliament as a pack of cigarettes is----excuse the modern allusion--priceless. This is a different kind of 5 stars than I usually give, and I am already pushing on ...more
J.M. Hushour
Dec 19, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Here we are interested not so much in the frightening prospects for tomorrow as in the no less frightening reality of today."

Lordy, this genius is hard to review!
I call it seance fiction. What this means is contacting a reality that runs parallel to ours for their perspective. They usually know better and are picky about their conveyance avatars, like Pelevin. In Homo, a young Russian guy forfeits a career in literature to work in advertising. His job in the main is to write advertisements for
Marzhan Alpysbayeva
As it is now popular, I need to start with a disclaimer that this review is an expression of my humble opinion that you should and hopefully would not agree with, otherwise it would mean that wow-factors are doing their job. And beware, because Pelevin intends to both entertain and puzzle the reader by immersing you into what seems to be fundamental, reasonable and even intellectually appealing historical and philosophical narratives, but reducing it to the postmodernist absurdity.

Vavilen Tatars
Feb 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Pelevin’s Homo Zapiens in Russian Generation P, quickly became a cult books. But, if you think that this novel will explain Russian people’s mindset or describe life during the nineties to you, then you are wrong. The author does not describe or explain Russian lifestyle during the nineties, neither he gives an answer to the question that bothers reader throughout this book. Pelevin is post-modernist and the book is structured as a dialogue between writer and the reader. I believe that Pelevin w ...more
Indeed, a gem. I'm reasonably excited because I haven't come across such a piece in a while.

The humour was excellent. Surrealistic. Like modernised Gogol. Lots of awfully funny nuances. I think the translation as well deserves to be mentioned because although I do not know the original script, I can imagine that the language in this book has required some real brainstorming, so inventive it is.

My favourite part of the book was probably the lengthy and lavish manifesto by Che Guevara's spirit abo
Aug 20, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
finished it in one day. gave me the strangest dream: I wandered into some derelict building - I could see the sea through one window and some huge mountains through another - and met this flying dragon-fox-angelesque creature.

then we sat down like proper yoga people and had a cup of absent. talked about something - probably commercials and pepsicola.
afterwards I went out through the door and met Tatarsky, who asked me whether I had a light. Of course I had a light. but I couldn't find it.
Mar 18, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ah ha, I am copying my own comment on someone else's review into this review because I am lazy and I think it's sad that I never wrote anything here.

Homo Zapiens is (IMO) Pelevin's tour de force. It's a totally fucking incredible story of advertising and mass psychology in post-Communist Russia, with a heavy dose of psychedelic mushrooms, violence, mistaken identity, etc. It's been a few years since I read it, but holy shit was it ever nuts. Plus one of the best cover illos ever.
Nelly Aghabekyan
The book was quote interesting, but not really my kind of read. Among all the imaginary and not so much revelations, those that truly interested me were stories of post-Soviet Russia and references to ancient mythologies. Ending didn't have the closure I expected, but thanks to all the mysteries left untold, my thoughts still keep jumping back to them, as if trying to see something I missed, something that was obvious all along. Was worth reading anyway. ...more
Yuri Sharon
Must have seemed like a good idea at the time.
Feb 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Where Reality Ends and Fiction Starts in Pelevin’s Novel Generation “P”

Reading Pelevin’s Generation “P” is like watching letsplay on the new game on youtube without a sound. You can just observe what the character does with some small understanding of what is going on. Nobody explains you anything and all you can do is to try to make educated guesses.
The main hero of the game - Vavilen Tatarsky is the collective image of people of 70s. Of those mystical times when criminals were romanticized,
Ryan Lottermoser
Nathan Atnikov
"D'you get my drift?"
"Not really."
Dec 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
i picked up generation p at dom knigi in st. petersburg in the late 90s. i'll admit i don't think i appreciated its brilliance at the time. we were still too close to it all, the fall of the soviet union and the rise of a new russia. but at last the time was right to read Pelevin again and fully appreciate him. my edition of this book is actually called Babylon, but from what i can see it is the same as homo zapiens.

it's difficult for me to describe adequately the brilliance of this book, the wa
Apr 21, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Clearly Victor Pelevin wrote the bulk of this book sitting on the toilet or standing in the shower. He collected all his stray thoughts and tried to make them anecdotes in the life of a cipher of a character. This book suffers from the same problems that Tom Robbins continually stumbles over, which is that he wants to convey some grand idea and then he has one character ask a couple questions to fake a dialog, while the other character expounds endlessly with the writer's voice. Whereas Robbins' ...more
May 01, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In some ways this is a mundane story of a uninspired young person making his way in the world and inadvertently moving through layers of society he didn't know existed. That's the story line in a nutshell, and you've seen that many times before. But the brilliant combination of place (Moscow), time (Yelstin), industry (advertising), and perspective (cockeyed and lonely paranoia) make this a really interesting book.

The main character Tartartsky is in a world seemingly moving from determinism to
Robert Wechsler
Apr 03, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was very taken with this novel, even though it’s in the Pynchonesque school I have little taste for these days. There’s a brilliance that tends to make the showiness and reasonable paranoia seem appropriate. Another way of putting it is that this is often a novel of ideas, a look at the world through advertising, with crazy theories that aren’t so crazy, or at least are brilliantly crazy, such as the oral and anal view of money, taken in and spent, that can only be appreciated by reading it. E ...more
Thomas Hale
Nov 12, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A satirical Russian novel about a guy who gets a job in advertising, and is slowly and inexorably sucked into the tangled mess of propaganda, money and manipulation at the heart of turn-of-the-Millennium Russian society. The book is a great portrait of post-Soviet Russia and the directionlessness of a society that only ten years before had been a Superpower. It's got a really satisfying cynical style that doesn't go overboard, and the frank pseudo-academic writing on advertising is absolutely wo ...more
Alexandra Prochshenko
Whoa! That was a hell of a ride. Five stars!

The story about the advertising guy, slightly reminding of "99 francs", turns into an partly acid capitalistic consumerist dystopia. The mix of advertising, crime rise, oppressors' lexicon, drug usage, social theories, symbolism and mysticism is literally the gist of Russia in "wild 90s" and 00s.

Crazy, brilliant, engaging, human, even educational.
Jun 10, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Stylish with flashes of brilliant (if dark) humour, well-captured by the translator. The theme of shallow consumer society and its cynical manipulation is universal. However, I suspect I missed some of the more specific cultural references and satirical barbs.

Mar 08, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Scavengering the post Soviet psyche.
Sep 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, russian
Incredibly inventive, brilliant book. Pelevin has an excellent narrative voice. This book isn't an easy one to read, but it's worth it. ...more
“Homo zapiens” is a variant on “homo sapiens,” that creature that we call human. In this satire of Russian society, and the West as well, human intelligence has devolved into mindlessness, caused by an obsession with money and its enabler, television. The novel follows the labyrinthine adventures of a young Russian writer, Tatarsky, who gives up literature to work in advertising.

He asks questions, most of which are answered in a key chapter in which an ouija board spells out what is happening i
Ron Anderson
Homo Zapiens by Victor Pelevin it’s dark, hallucinogenic, philosophical adventure story which is also extremely funny. One description I read of the book was “psychedelic Nabokov of the cyber age” which works, but while I was reading I envisioned Mikhail Bulgakov, Michel Houellebecq, Haruki Murakami and Kurt Vonnegut sitting around a ouija board fueled by cocaine, mushrooms and vodka. Homo Zapiens is a ripping satire of consumerism, ancient mythologies and fake news via the Russia of 1998. (by t ...more
Feb 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The End of National Myth?
“Oh, what was it all about?” This is the exact idea that readers are left with after finishing the novel. Published in 1999, in a very controversial period of Russian history, the novel was also perceived quite differently. Literary critics also did not express unanimous views: the novel was awarded a “Bronze Snail” (2000) and totally ignored by the judges of “Booker Prize”. The novel known to English readers as “Homo Zapiens” contains several themes. However, one overa
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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.

RU: Виктор Пелевин

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