Death and the Penguin – Andrey Kurkov

A writer in a dismal Kiev flat gets offered a suspiciously overpaid job writing obituaries. People start dying. And he has a pet penguin called Misha.

Oh, and in the course of the book at least 17 bottles of vodka, 5 bottles of “cognac” and a couple of bottles of champagne get pounded.

What’s not to like?

Andrey Kurkov’s on the vanguard of Ukrainian literature (even though he was born in Leningrad). He writes in Russian, which tends to piss off Ukrainians, and he lives the Ukraine, which tends to piss off the Russians. Don’t let that bother you in the same way it bothers the Moscow Times.

It’s not a complex work, but the characters are surprisingly engaging. The next book in the sequence is called Penguin Lost. And yes, I’m going to read it.

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