I wanted to write a general appreciation of Kuzechkin’s novel now that I’ve finished it (see the earlier posts: I, II), but I’m copyediting two books at once and am pressed for time, so I’ll just copy the brief review I wrote for LibraryThing:

I just finished this book, which I enjoyed a great deal more than I expected to. At sixty, I have little in common with the angst-filled young protagonists, and if the book were primarily an expression of their worldview I would have given up on it early. But it’s a witty and wise presentation of their world at arm’s length, written with a heavy larding of slang and anglicisms but also an appreciation of well-used Russian that makes it a pleasure to read.

I’ll just add a couple of lines from facing pages that made me laugh heartily. From p. 266:
– Я твоя фурри! – сказала панда. ["I'm your furry!" said the panda.]
And from p. 267: И немедленно выпил. This is the most famous line from the funniest Russian novel of the late 20th century, Venedikt Erofeev’s Moskva-Petushki; it has been translated both “And then I had a drink” and “And I drank it straight down,” and Erofeev explains in his preface that these are the only words in one chapter because the entire rest of the chapter consisted of “nothing but pure obscenity” and he considered it better omitted. The subject of the sentence is singular but otherwise unspecified, as usual in Russian, and in Kuzechkin’s novel it is third-person (“And he immediately drank it”). I realize it’s an obvious quote and a cheap laugh, but hey, I’m a cheap date.


  1. I confess: I haven’t read the funniest Russian novel of the late 20th century. There appear to be three translations into English (by Tjalmsa, Dorrell, and Mulrine, from least to most available to me). Do you recommend/disrecommend any in particular?

  2. Hat, to your reply to a comment in the part one:
    You mean there is no group that thinks it’s more prestigious to pronounce the word [компьютер] without palatalization of the t?
    There is, and a very large one indeed! Such a pronunciation betrays someone who has likely read the word in print only but has had no chance to use it in live speech, and is therefore assumed computer illiterate. In most dreadful cases, a stress on the last syllable in addition to the soft t leaves no doubt and no excuse.
    That comment looked misleading to me on other topics too.

  3. Thanks! I was wondering if anyone would enlighten me about that.
    Matt: No, I’m afraid I don’t; I read it in Russian.

  4. A cheap laugh?
    Maybe you had to be there.

  5. A cheap laugh if you’re immersed in modern Russian literature; otherwise, yeah, not so much.

Speak Your Mind