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Death and the Penguin
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message 1: by Diane , Armchair Tour Guide (new) - rated it 4 stars

Diane  | 12974 comments Start discussion here for Death and the Penguin by Andrey Kurkov.


message 2: by Diane , Armchair Tour Guide (last edited Jun 16, 2018 12:04PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Diane  | 12974 comments About the Book (from the publisher)

Aspiring writer Viktor Zolotaryov leads a down-and-out life in poverty-and-violence-wracked Kiev—he’s out of work and his only friend is a penguin, Misha, that he rescued when the local zoo started getting rid of animals. Even more nerve-wracking: a local mobster has taken a shine to Misha and wants to keep borrowing him for events.

But Viktor thinks he’s finally caught a break when he lands a well-paying job at the Kiev newspaper writing “living obituaries” of local dignitaries—articles to be filed for use when the time comes. The only thing is, it seems the time always comes as soon as Viktor writes the article. Slowly understanding that his own life may be in jeopardy, Viktor also realizes that the only thing that might be keeping him alive is his penguin.

About the Author

Andreĭ Kurkov is a Ukrainian writer who writes in Russian. He was born in a Budogoszcz, a small town near Leningrad, 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 Japanese translation training. He started writing at the age of six and he had a hobby of collecting cacti - he collected nearly 1,500 of them. Ambitiously, he wanted to learn their Latin names. Thanks to that he learned such languages such as English, French, Japanese, Georgian and Polish.


Rosemarie | 3315 comments I read this book in January for the Translated Literature challenge. It is a fun book, with an unusual and entertaining main character. We see a different view of life in Russia, complete with penguin. I liked the ending too.


Ruth | 451 comments I've just finished this and found it a compelling read. The book opens with a list of characters which intrigued me and I eagerly set aside my disbelief and found it perfectly fine for a writer to be living with a depressed penguin and writing obituaries that clearly have implications beyond what is said by the editor of the newspaper which commissions them. The subsequent arrival of Sonya, the daughter of a gangster and Nina, the nanny he hires to take care of her, create a bizarre little family. Surreal but funny and edgy. Good ending (no spoilers!) as I was wondering how Kurkov might bring the story to a close. I'll be looking out for other books by Kurkov, I see that a penguin features in one of them.


message 5: by Laurie (new)

Laurie | 634 comments I don't have time to read this book this month, but you two have made me decide that I definitely need to read this at some point.


message 6: by [deleted user] (new)

I just finished this & enjoyed it. It's a book that can't be taken too seriously. I'm now hoping to read the sequel.

I loved the deadpan manner of Viktor who became a powerful mafia figure without even realising or looking for it. It was also very interesting to see inside the world in which he lived in the Ukraine - the mention of ruined buildings & military police & people living in near squalor was actually quite shocking. It was a satire on the mafia, corrupt societies, animal & child welfare, journalism & probably much more that I'm not even conscious of yet, all wrapped up in one small novel.


message 7: by Pam (new) - added it

Pam (bluegrasspam) | 123 comments I bought this book at Goodwill last month to read for 2 different challenges in this group. I think I have already read it, though! But, I plan to reread it since I have forgotten the story.


Suki St Charles (goodreadscomsuki_stcharles) | 17 comments I loved this story! I just finished reading the sequel, Penguin Lost, and it was as wonderful as the first. Viktor and Misha have more adventures together, and all the loose ends from the first book are resolved. The books were very fast and easy to read, and Kurkov has a warmth and sympathy for his characters that really bring them to life. After reading the sequel and seeing how the whole story plays out, I am changing my rating of Death and the Penguin from 4 to 5 stars.


message 9: by Diane , Armchair Tour Guide (new) - rated it 4 stars

Diane  | 12974 comments Suki wrote: "I loved this story! I just finished reading the sequel, Penguin Lost, and it was as wonderful as the first. Viktor and Misha have more adventures together, and all the loose ends from..."

I am glad you liked it. You have convinced me to read the sequel.


message 10: by Suki (new) - rated it 5 stars

Suki St Charles (goodreadscomsuki_stcharles) | 17 comments Diane wrote: "I am glad you liked it. You have convinced me to read the sequel."

I hope you like it as much as I did! :-)


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