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Sleep (A Werewolf Problem in Central Russia)

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  778 Ratings  ·  30 Reviews
Russian writers tend to gravitate toward either Tolstoyan gravity or Gogol's brand of feather-light fabulism. Victor Pelevin, the author of four previous books, most definitely belongs in the latter camp. His work may be grounded in the grubby realities of contemporary Russia, but the food shortages, decaying apartment blocks, and political chaos serve him as a kind of nat ...more
Published (first published November 5th 1998)
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Apr 19, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Cosmonauts, Industrialists, Anyone with Pneumatic Hammers Instead of Arms
Recommended to Aaron by: Zach
It'd be an interesting experiment in sociology to give a group of socio-anthropologists nothing but the canon of distopian/absurdist Russian literature and make them try to extrapolate an idea of what Russian culture is actually like:

"We have concluded that the primary export of this theoretical Russian people is the generation and training of cosmonauts and gigantic, steam-driven hammers which are used to smash iron ore. The supernatural is possible with the permission of the Party. All governm
Jan 06, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This collection of eight short stories is a book I would never have read, had it not been the selection of a book group member who became enthused about Pelevin and has read three or four of his other works. Based on this one, I've had enough. I think, or rather I'm guessing, that there are too many cultural references that just don't translate very well to a western audience..

All of the stories have to do, finally, with the "meaning of life" which may sound pretentious, but they root the questi
Dec 27, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
My Amazon review: A book of difficult stories, at best, the first story, "A Werewolf Problem in Central Russia", about a wanderer who happens upon a pack of werewolves, and the last story "Prince of Gosplan", which meshes the real world with the world of computer games, are the two stellar and meaningfully understandable stories in this collection.

Whether it is my own ignorance of Russian/Soviet history and life, my lack of philosophical depth, and/or issues of translating Russian to English, th
May 15, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
il grande merito dei russi contemporanei è che fanno venire una gran voglia di (ri)leggere i classici.
Nov 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some of the short stories remind me of the brilliance of YELLOW ARROW, while others read like a particularly fevered, impressionist dream. His stories always had a lot of philosophies wrapped in either the story plot and /or in the characters / characters' speeches. Some of it seems more indecipherable than usual. I am not sure whether it's because I just don't have the cultural / historical background for stories or if the disjointed ambiguity is on purpose or what. All the stories will definit ...more
Jam Cole
Very strange book of short stories! There are ups and downs. Works better when you read it as part of a book group and get to talk through - though provoking at best...
A Werewolf Problem in Central Russia, a collection of short stories, exhibits both the joys and the challenges of reading someone as brilliantly absurd as Victor Pelevin. As with most short story collections, the selections are a mixed bag, but in a different way: some stories are light and surreal while others are simply confounding. At times, Pelevin addresses universal themes with tremendous insight; at other times his satire is so specifically Russian that anyone not well-versed in the histo ...more
Jan 27, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I feel like I give everyone four stars! This one should have been a five star read, but the author needs polishing. Victor Pelevin utilizes the absurd to make sweeping statements about post-Glasnost Russia, much like Bulgakov. I adore this literary device, but it must be used wisely. The book meandered too far into the intricacies of the author's mind, which meant nothing to me, though maybe I'm just not from the right culture.

But enough criticism. This was a thoughtfully written, intriguingly p
The dust jacket compares Victor Pelevin's work with Kafka, Bulgakov, Philip K Dick and Joseph Heller, but the comparisons that came to mind for me were with Nikolai Gogol and the Strugatskii brothers. My favourite stories in this book were the title story, and the concluding novella "Prince of Gosplan", which reimagines late-Soviet life as a bunch of computer games: the hero is like a male Lara Croft with worse resolution. If you like surrealism, absurdism and the convolutions in time and space ...more
Sep 02, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The title story 'Werewolf Problems in Central Russia' is one of the few shining moments in this collection of short stories. There is a distinct slide in quality from that point. 'Vera Pavlovna's Ninth Dream' a look at solipsism is probably the last interesting story in the group. 'Tai Shou Chuan USSR (A Chinese Folk Tale)' was unsuccessful as a Chinese folk tale, and I can only assume that there were Russian nuances that don't translate well to English. 'Prince of Gosplan' is a dated play on co ...more
Dec 31, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
There were two stories in this book that I really enjoyed: A Werewolf Problem in Central Russia and Prince of Gosplan. However, I guess I didn’t read as much into any of the stories as other reviewers did.

For those who like satires about current problems (which are the same no matter where you are in the world), then this is a good set of stories. For those who aren’t big fans of abstract satires, like myself, I wouldn’t recommend this book.
Jan 28, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: lit fans
An intriguing collection of stories.
the titular story is by far the best one of the bunch, the rest are ok at best.
one of the things that really made me enjoy the story was that after the initial discovery of werewolf villagers the phenomenon stops existing as such and is stated so matter-of-factly that the characters immediately become as real as people you've met.
does not carry any of the anne rice or r.l. salvatore mood that one might expect.
Jul 25, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
The title story, The Ontology of Childhood, and Prince of Gosplan are the highlights of this collection. Most of the stories have a similar twist and are somewhat reminiscent of The Life of Insects. I'm hoping that the similarity of these stories is why they have been collected together and that I will find a bit more variation in Pelevin's other works.
Aug 27, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I like this book the way I liked the movies Willard, Trolls and House of Yes. It is quirky, dark, unique and surprising. It is also blessed with riveting and bizarre situations, characters and settings as well as a kick ass title. If anyone is having a werewolf problem, it is most likely the inhabitants of Central Russia. The writing is creative, unique. He has another book where each character is an insect that is also well worth it...
Aug 15, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the kind of bizarre I expect to see more and more in "traditional" fiction--and this guy was doing it 10 years ago. Seriously, we need to loosen up, allow video games and werewolves and solipsism practicing clerks to fill the literature shelves. Not all the stories struck the right cord, but not one of them felt like anything I'd read before, and in this day and age, that is a rarity indeed.
Aug 15, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I like Victor Pelevin, but I found this collection to be mostly disappointing. The title story and "The Prince of Gosplan" were the only ones I really liked. "Tai Shou Chuan USSR" was pretty good too I guess. A lot of the others started out with good premises, like "Sleep," but then went nowhere comprehensible.
Feb 13, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think I know why some people gave this book less than stellar ratings. It's well-written, entertaining and thoughtful. That said, while the book physically sits on my fiction shelf at home, it's listed as philosophy here on Goodreads. I don't think I'm the only one who had trouble defining it, and unfortunately,'Muricans are a culture that likes our stuff to be well-defined.
Mar 28, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
i liked the first story, from which the collection derives its title..... after that i had to drag myself through the obvious metaphors and boring plots. three stars for the story i did like, as well as a few funny or interesting ideas, but honestly, i couldn't force myself to finish.
Robert Wechsler
The first, title story is absolutely incredible. It's worth the price of the book. Its magical realism is so much more interesting than most; its fablistic qualities aren't hammered into your head like so much Russian satire. But then I tried some of the other stories, and found them dreadful.
Oct 20, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book caused the kind of heart-racing panic that Haruki Murakami causes as I don't know what will happen on the next page. Not only am I surprised, but I am enlightened, and looking back, I can't imagine anything other action than what was written.
Aug 02, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The story from which the book gets its title was eerie, dark, and satirical. It's worth picking up the book just to read "A Werewolf Problem in Central Russia." I didn't care for the other stories in this collection.
Amy Rodbumrung
Mar 30, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
I love short stories and this is no exception.Funny in a weird way.
Sep 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Nice little set of stories by Pelevin. The usual dark Russian humor and trademark philosophical angst typical of him
Dec 30, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pelevin is a great Post-Soviet modernist. His work is suffused with a Russian sense of humor.
Apr 12, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
While some stories succeed well, others were easily forgettable. I am glad to have read it (because after this I tried The Yellow Arrow by Pelevin which was a great collection of stories.
Sarah Sammis
May 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Here's a collection of short stories that has stuck with me, especially the titular one.
Dec 25, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Jun 25, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some superb stories in here. Pelevin's mind is amazing. The more fantastical stories are definitely the most successful ones.
Aly Pavitt
rated it really liked it
Jan 19, 2014
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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." (Wikipedia)

See also http://en.wikipedia.
More about Victor Pelevin...