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The Funeral Party

3.71  ·  Rating Details ·  855 Ratings  ·  72 Reviews
August 1991. In a sweltering New York City apartment, a group of Russian émigrés gathers round the deathbed of an artist named Alik, a charismatic character beloved by them all, especially the women who take turns nursing him as he fades from this world. Their reminiscences of the dying man and of their lives in Russia are punctuated by debates and squabbles: Whom did Alik ...more
Paperback, 160 pages
Published January 15th 2002 by Schocken (first published January 1st 1992)
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Jan 25, 2017 Dolors rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Those who celebrate life
Recommended to Dolors by: Ema
Shelves: read-in-2017
Something unusual occurred to me as I was turning the pages of this novel: I was basking in the simple, unflowery storytelling, relishing the tenderness that the oddly arranged mosaic of characters arose in me, and devouring page after page in spite of having figured out exactly where and when the pieces of the disarranged puzzle of facts, timelines and crisscrossed stories would inevitably converge. Solving the key aspects of the plot didn’t diminish the glee of savoring a book that couldn’t ha ...more
Aug 29, 2016 Stela rated it really liked it

I definitely have to report it ☺: Ludmila Ulitskaya’s Funeral Party has stolen my dream – my nightmare, that is. I think I’ve already talked about it elsewhere, this recurrent dream I have in which I find myself stranded in Romania with no money and no job (although sometimes I dream that my former school took pity on me and employed me again), freaking out about my bills, my job and my home in Quebec. Over the years I’ve often dismissed this dream of mine as the embodiment of some lack of secur
*** scroll down for German review **

I cried for the last five chapters of this book. I re-read paragraphs, because I was forced, again and again, to stop in the very middle of a sentence to wipe the tears off.
I love Russian. This short, laconic language; the ways to construct a sentence comparable only to Latin; the grammatical forms, which are frowned upon in today's German (also in English, but there with a reason, I think), but are still part of the Russian, the proper beautiful Russian of a
Nov 23, 2013 Ema rated it it was amazing
Din momentul în care am aflat că Ulițkaia are un roman intitulat ”Înmormântare veselă”, mi s-a pus pata, trebuia să fac rost de el - dar nu l-am mai găsit decât la bibliotecă. Îmi imaginam deja o poveste cu mult umor negru, cu un amestec de cinism, vulgaritate și melancolie, infuzată de pitoreștile tradiții rusești pe care autoarea le pune atât de bine în valoare. Cam așa a și fost, iar cartea mi-a plăcut foarte mult. Ce mai, n-ai cum să nu iubești Rusia din poveștile Ludmilei Ulițkaia, oricâte ...more
Feb 16, 2015 Amy rated it it was amazing
Home. A powerful and multipurpose word. Some argue it is where ever you and yours are, others that it is a place that one can never return to once they have left. This is one of the many complex themes tackled in Ludmila Ulitskaya’s novel The Funeral Party. Manhattan in the summer can be an oppressive place, for a group of Russian immigrants it is made all the more unbearable because they are gathered together to sit by the death bed of a beloved friend, Alik. An artist, friend to all, and parti ...more
Nov 22, 2016 Amy rated it liked it
It's a super-fast read (a few hours), and I read it in a post-election rage so it took me a while to settle into it, but it was enjoyable and impermanent, much like our worthless and short lives which are only made meaningful by the relationships we have in them. Even the gestures we make -- a tape here, a check there -- are small and insignificant, worn out by the repetition of generations, and only cherished by those closest to us.
That got dark fast.
To be honest, I don't remember much; but it
Alysson Oliveira
May 07, 2016 Alysson Oliveira rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016
Meu funeral russo

As narrativas da russa Ludmila Ulitskaya se materializam numa fissura entre o residual da União Soviética e o emergente da (nova) Rússia. A questão, então, que seus romances tentam investigar é: o que é o hegemônico? Isso fica bem claro nas quase 600 páginas de THE BIG GREEN TENT, lançado em inglês no final do ano passado, um romance monumental que acompanha o desmantelamento da União Soviética. Sua primeira obra lançada em inglês THE FUNERAL PARTY (Trad. Cathy Porters) tem pou
Mar 25, 2012 Jonfaith rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mother-rus
The lugubrious lilt of this novella packs an unexpected thump. The kinesis of said wallop must derive from that which is difficult(if not opposed) to translate. I have been accused by family and friends alike of possessing a Slavic soul. I remain undecided about such designations, but I understood the ache at the core of this book.
Nov 15, 2016 William rated it did not like it
I got exactly zero anything from reading this book. I challenge any of my friends to ask me about it one year from now, and I'll buy you any beer you want if I even remember that I read it. In fact, I finished it yesterday, and I think I already forgot most of it. I'm going to do some research and see if I missed something really important about it, but barring that, I wouldn't waste my time.
Aron Kerpel-Fronius
As a Russian immigrant, Alik is dying in his little room in New York, his friends and past lovers all gather around him to spend the last days in his irresistible company. Alik is a true cosmopolite, charming and knowledgeable, whose personality draws everyone around him even when his body is not capable to move around anymore.

This little book is about love in all its forms; the love of life and all the little things in it, the love of art and knowledge, and finally the love of women. At 150 pag
Jeff Friederichsen
In the hothouse of an art studio in New York, a Russian emigré lives his final days immobilized by a nervous system affliction, surrounded by an entourage of friends embodying the variety of the Russian immigrant experience. It's a short story, as he rapidly fades, but over the length of its 150-odd pages, The Funeral Party reveals the complexities of relationship within this cast of characters and their bonds to the dying artist, Alik. This is a very accomplished capsule of the human condition, ...more
May 12, 2010 Lance rated it liked it
I'm always fascinated by the use of point of view in many modern Russian novels. Though the flowing point of views and crowd of characters makes for a difficult read sometimes, it clearly simulates the life of Russian immigrants loosely connected by nationality . . . represented in this book, I think, by a dying man.
Daniel Simmons
Nov 18, 2016 Daniel Simmons rated it it was ok
I found this an easy-to-read but not especially compelling look at the Russian immigrant experience in the U.S. (or in NYC, anyway). I read it immediately after finishing Imbolo Mbue's "Behold the Dreamers," another "immigrant novel" that I found very engaging, so perhaps it suffered in comparison. Not bad, but nothing worth writing a longer GoodReads review about.
Nov 19, 2016 Scott rated it it was ok
Nothing "wrong" with this book, but I found myself uninvolved and unmoved as I read through its 150-odd pages. Perhaps because I'm not Russian? Not an immigrant? Maybe there's something specific and evocative about this story that I don't appreciate?
Jan 29, 2009 Yana rated it really liked it
Ulitskaya's writing is just lovely.
Mar 19, 2017 Suzanne rated it really liked it
An unusual book both for its setting and subject matter and style. Alik is dying and the book covers his last days and death at his loft apartment in New York. Himself a Russian emigré artist, he is surrounded by fellow emigrés - mainly women with whom he has been involved in one way or another - but also occasional visitors, such as the Paraguayan musicians from the street below. His magnetic personality infuses the atmosphere and explains the attraction to the swirling crowd of visitors, about ...more
Sadie Ruin
May 15, 2017 Sadie Ruin rated it really liked it
A beautiful heart wrenching story of death. As Alik is on his death bed we are treated to all the immigrants from Russia who have built a life around him. The feeling of family (though not blood relatives) and love is strong in the simple writing.
Helia Rethmann
Mar 19, 2017 Helia Rethmann rated it liked it
Original and funny. But who but Russians can deal with 15 people in one page plus their various terms of endearment?
Nov 30, 2016 Rhea rated it it was amazing
Just wish I could find more of her books!
Mandy Weiss
Oct 15, 2016 Mandy Weiss rated it really liked it
Forsaking my traditional reading material of crime, I picked up a copy of the Funeral Party, and thoroughly enjoyed it. Alik, a Russian émigré is dying in his in New York apartment, surrounded by his Russian émigré friends. Despite the slimness of this book Ulitskaya managed to spin a web of interconnecting relationships. I especially enjoyed the translation of this novel. I’m not sure if the turn of phrase came from the original Russian, but this book is indeed ‘a miracle with fur!’
Julie A
Mar 08, 2017 Julie A rated it liked it
Short and punchy. The style is a bit unusual. It was an interesting read.
Oct 06, 2011 Lisa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: russia, c21st, translation
I still haven’t quite decided whether the title of this novel is an oxymoron or a clever play on words. The Funeral Party is about the last days of an artist in a New York apartment, and he spends it in the company of an extraordinary collection of characters. So there is a party of people, but also a party atmosphere, because that’s the way these people are.

Like his friends, Alik is a Russian émigré who abandoned his homeland for a better life in America. He loves America and so do they even th
Feb 22, 2013 Bradley rated it really liked it
Shelves: class
"The Funeral Party" was a fun book to read. The social atmosphere of the characters in the novel was fascinating to me. By the time I got to the end, I still could not tell about 75% of the characters apart, but I feel as if that did not hinder my ability to understand the book. The main characters all had their own easily-identifiable back-stories, so they were easy to differentiate. The central premise of the book, a dying man surrounded by loved ones in his last few days, is a fresh take on t ...more
Vverh Upala
Jan 07, 2015 Vverh Upala rated it it was amazing
I was highly prejudiced against reading Ulitskaya - contemporary popular woman-writer made me think of love novels and "yellow" literature. BUT then I came across her activity as Russian PEN member and started to get interested in her, still cautious about her writing. a week later I received two of her books as a gift.
Well, my prejudices were gone after the first pages. I could not put the book down, even though it was sometimes hard for me to put up with the womanish sensibility of the writing
Oct 04, 2016 Beth rated it really liked it
What do I think? I tried not to think as I swam through these pages. Just wanted my mind to quiet as I absorbed these noisy loving and rude cast of characters. Armies of adults cramped into a tiny room to pay homage to Alik, the dying man. Everyone is either a former and/or current lover or admirer of Alik who seems to both require and expect adoration. His charisma is unquestionably authentic and the bonds that the Russian emigres share is enviable. I recognized my own family in snippets of con ...more
Dan Seligson
Oct 19, 2014 Dan Seligson rated it really liked it
Russian emigre community in New York from the 70s up until the failed coup in Moscow. Centered around the magnetic Alik, a painter and lover of life who's not much good at making money, but very good at making people happy. The book is full of wonderful insights into universals of human behavior, and ponders the unanswerable question of why Soviet Russia had any charm, and in fact, so much charm. She writes, and I paraphrase, that one difference between America and Russia is that the former devo ...more
Dec 22, 2011 Sooz rated it really liked it
we meet Alik on his deadbed. not a very promising beginning for a long and beautiful friendship. while there are some flashbacks to better times -when he was a healthy vibrant passionate young man- mostly we get to know what kind of person Alik is by observing the people - mostly women- around him. the people who pay his bills for him - often annonymously. the people who wage battle for him. the people who protect his alcoholic, fragile, kind of flighty wife. the people who come and stay and don ...more
Feb 27, 2015 Jaci rated it it was amazing
What a cast of characters. Alik brings them all together and, as he's dying, they each review his or her history with him. Through flashbacks and dialogue, the richness and strangeness of this immigrant community are beautifully portrayed. Ulitskaya examines faith, life and family, ending with a wake that even the dead Alik attends. Lovely.

p.4: "When younger he had gone to India in search of ancient wisdom, but the basket was all he'd brought back with him."
p.25: "She was seducing him into bapti
Nov 29, 2015 Paroles rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Основное впечатление от книги - ощущение фальши. Все герои, их отношения и диалоги производят впечатление выдуманных и надуманных и раздражают гораздо больше, чем прямые фактические нелепицы при описании американской жизни (кетчуп в сэндвиче? школьные работы, сдаваемые в письменном виде - исключение из правил? подросток, проводящий время среди взрослых? риторика официальных речей на похоронах ничем не отличается от российской?). Главный герой, отвечающий традиционному стандарту российского творч ...more
Jun 13, 2016 Matt rated it really liked it
As both a recent learner of Russian and an English teacher, this book was a beautiful insight into a culture of which I have thus far been relatively ignorant. The prose is beautifully crafted to delicately and brutally display the emotions of the characters within.
However, my biggest criticism is, ironically, of the book's most compelling feature. Whilst not directly written from the perspective of the dying character, the novel's mimicry of a death bed perspective can at times become confused
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also known as: Людмила Улицкая, Ljudmila Ulitzkaja, Lioudmila Oulitskaïa,
Ludmila Ulítskaya, Ljoedmila Oelitskaja, Ljudmila Ulickaja, Ljudmila Ulitskaja, Ljudmila Ulická, Ludmila Uliţkaia, Liudmila Ulitskaya

Lyudmila Ulitskaya is a critically acclaimed modern Russian novelist and short-story writer. She was born in the town of Davlekanovo in Bashkiria in 1943. She grew up in Moscow where she studie
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