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Andrey Kurkov Books In Order

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Publication Order of The Penguin Books

Death and the Penguin (2001)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Case of the General's Thumb (2003)Description / Buy at Amazon
Penguin Lost (2004)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Samson Kolechko Investigates Books

The Silver Bone (2024)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

The President's Last Love (2004)Description / Buy at Amazon
A Matter оf Death аnd Life (2005)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Milkman in the Night (2008)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Good Angel of Death (2009)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Gardener from Ochakov (2010)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Bickford Fuse (2011)Description / Buy at Amazon
Jimi Hendrix Live in Lviv (2012)Description / Buy at Amazon
Grey Bees (2020)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Non-Fiction Books

Ukraine Diaries (2014)Description / Buy at Amazon
Diary of an Invasion (2022)Description / Buy at Amazon

Andrey Kurkov is a contemporary Ukrainian detective and fiction book author who writes in Ukrainian and Russian languages. He was born in the town of Budogoszcz in Russia, but his family relocated to Kyiv, Ukraine, when he was young. He graduated from Kyiv Pedagogical Academy and later studied Japanese translation training. Some of Kurkov’s popular books are Smert Pingvina, translated as Death and the Penguin, and Zakon ulitki, translated as Penguin lost.
Death and the Penguin

In Death and Penguin, Andrey Kurkov introduces us to the main character Viktor, an aspiring writer, who lives with Misha (Penguin) because the “penguins” maintenance department of Kyiv zoo is closed, that’s why Misha is next to Victor.
The penguin plays a powerful presence in the story and is a motif for our main character’s state of mind. The events in the story take place in the city of Kiev, the capital of Ukraine. In this novel, the author has beautifully painted the social atmosphere of Ukraine after the separation from the Soviet Union.

The story kicks off with the time when Victor goes to newspapers to publish his last story. Still, instead of accepting Victor’s story, they offer him to write obituaries for the newspaper. Victor accepts that offer, but after accepting that request, mysterious events happen to “Victor” along the way.

However, he soon discovers that he’s writing obituaries for people who aren’t yet dead and that his subjects are murdered in mafia-style. He becomes overly suspicious, and this leads him into getting into a series of strange relationships. First, he finds himself in charge of a young girl named Sonya, the daughter of the local chief of police.

The chief of police vanishes in the thin air, and Viktor contracts Nina as a maid for Sonya when he’s working or hiding from the people he believes are hunting him. He starts a romantic relationship with Nina, but that proves to be cold and a dissimilarity to his relationship with his pet penguin.

Viktor’s situation takes a turn for the worst when he discovers that the local newspaper has hired someone new to write obituaries, and he is to be the subject of one of the obituaries. At the same time, Misha becomes sick, and Viktor is informed the penguin requires a heart transplant or else the penguin will die. After a successful operation, Viktor decides to return the penguin to Antarctica and learns of an expedition traveling there, and pays for the penguin to go.
Death and the Penguin boast chapters that are fast-paced, and that immerse the readers in adventurous, absurd, and even surreal events. The author allows you to witness the creation of an artificial family, watch the arrival of a stranger at night through closed doors, and invite you to a funeral along with Penguin.

Andrey Kurkov presents the socio-political satire with humor so that they can tell the world about Ukraine, a nation that, according to him, is incapable of understanding the new way of life and perhaps disinterested in learning it. That’s why Viktor imprisons Penguin at home in a surreal mise-en-scene, and by showing his sad and staring gaze, he captures the voice of his longing to return home.

The author writes as follows: The silent and brooding “penguin” is the key to understanding the story; as a frame of the chaotic Soviet after the collapse, the familiar way of life becomes a line for him. This is an event that also included the Soviets after the collapse of the country; people who were accustomed to group life before that now find themselves alone and homeless.

The writer depicts in beautiful language the period in which the Soviet Union collapsed, and Ukraine was liberated from that suffocating union, a period in which the word liberation does not seem to mean victory, but gloom and corruption were a permanent background for all events and characters to reflect on the events of the novel, where the writer presented it in a smart way.

A Matter of Life and Death
Andrey Kurkov’s book, A Matter of Life and Death, was first published in Russian in 1996 and was adapted for the big screen in 1997 under the title: A friend of the deceased. The core of the novel is formed around an incident that can be referred to as note 22. Tolya wants to stay alive even though he has hired a killer to kill him.

Tulia, a depressed 30-year-old Ukrainian who is unemployed and penniless and whose wife is cheating on him, decides to commit suicide and of course, does it in such a way that this act is the most important, outstanding, and a masterpiece of his aimless life. So what’s better than a death that leaves everyone in the mouth?

He hires a cheap contract killer through a friend and he sends his address, profile, and photo to the killer, who has never seen him and will never see him. With his death, everyone, neighbors, friends, and even the wife of his betrayal, will be shocked.

Andrey Kurkov does a fantastic job in creating a masterpiece that proves to be one of the best through its adaptation for the big screen. The main character has traces of Holden Caulfield (Nator Dasht), Christian Dangerfield (Gingerman), and Hank (Millionaire), but none of them.

Like Holden Caulfield, he is rebellious and doesn’t have much patience for people; like Dangerfield, he is a fugitive from being tied down by women, and like Hank, his best friend is an alcoholic. And like all three of them, he doesn’t value life as much as it does for other people.

Overall, a Matter of Life and Death is a fantastic and highly recommended book. The novel boasts an interesting and entertaining story, good and excellent dialogue and text, and most importantly, it’s fast-paced and highly immersive such that you can easily read it overnight in a few hours and enjoy it. And like with all satire, everything good lies in between the line, and between these lines, you will find some decent hardcore truths.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Andrey Kurkov

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