Customer Reviews for

Death and the Penguin

Average Rating 3.5
( 35 )
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

Charming and Bleak?

The first book in Kurkov's pair of penguin novels is one of the more difficult books to explain. How can a book be "noir" and "cute" at once? How can a literary novel involve a character who is a penguin living in an apartment building with a down-and-out writer and yet...
The first book in Kurkov's pair of penguin novels is one of the more difficult books to explain. How can a book be "noir" and "cute" at once? How can a literary novel involve a character who is a penguin living in an apartment building with a down-and-out writer and yet never become overly postmodern or surreal? Because sometimes a penguin is just a penguin, which is the case in these two wonderfully charming, yet bleak novels. There is a warning though, that comes with this sophisticated book. By the time you've finished it you will desperately want a pet penguin, which would be very expensive.

posted by dragonfly74 on October 3, 2011

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Most Helpful Critical Review

4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

Penguin vs. The Mafia

In one of his more recent books, Death and the Penguin, author Andrey Kurkov tells about an ordinary writer named Viktor Zolotaryov in post-soviet Ukraine who has a not-so-ordinary pet. This creature called Misha, is a penguin who fell into the hands of Viktor when the...
In one of his more recent books, Death and the Penguin, author Andrey Kurkov tells about an ordinary writer named Viktor Zolotaryov in post-soviet Ukraine who has a not-so-ordinary pet. This creature called Misha, is a penguin who fell into the hands of Viktor when the local zoo could not feed it and is, for the time being, Viktor¿s only companion. Soon enough Viktor¿s normal life is snatched away when he takes the job of writing obituaries for a local newspaper and works under the shady chief of the company. The strange thing about these obituaries though, is that he writes them before the subject has even died. Nevertheless, Viktor continues to write the obituaries and soon becomes entangled in a web of mystery when he finds himself writing about famous people who die soon after the obituary is completed. Along the way he takes on the responsibility of caring for a stranger¿s child and becomes involved in a relationship with her nanny. Viktor¿s life seems to being going well until he realizes the power of his obituaries. Eventually he and his penguin are ensnared in a conspiracy with hit men, in which there is no way out. At first this book seems like a good mystery about a man and his penguin, pitted against the bad guys. But half way through, the book loses its appeal. It even becomes bizarre, largely due to his relationship with Nina the nanny. The conclusion is very depressing and confusing and leaves you unsatisfied, wanting to know what happens next. I was also disappointed by the extreme personality change Viktor goes through at the very end of the book which does not match up with his character. Overall I would stay away from this book unless you are looking for a dark and sometimes confusing mystery that will leave you asking questions.

posted by Anonymous on February 15, 2005

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 15, 2005

    Penguin vs. The Mafia

    In one of his more recent books, Death and the Penguin, author Andrey Kurkov tells about an ordinary writer named Viktor Zolotaryov in post-soviet Ukraine who has a not-so-ordinary pet. This creature called Misha, is a penguin who fell into the hands of Viktor when the local zoo could not feed it and is, for the time being, Viktor¿s only companion. Soon enough Viktor¿s normal life is snatched away when he takes the job of writing obituaries for a local newspaper and works under the shady chief of the company. The strange thing about these obituaries though, is that he writes them before the subject has even died. Nevertheless, Viktor continues to write the obituaries and soon becomes entangled in a web of mystery when he finds himself writing about famous people who die soon after the obituary is completed. Along the way he takes on the responsibility of caring for a stranger¿s child and becomes involved in a relationship with her nanny. Viktor¿s life seems to being going well until he realizes the power of his obituaries. Eventually he and his penguin are ensnared in a conspiracy with hit men, in which there is no way out. At first this book seems like a good mystery about a man and his penguin, pitted against the bad guys. But half way through, the book loses its appeal. It even becomes bizarre, largely due to his relationship with Nina the nanny. The conclusion is very depressing and confusing and leaves you unsatisfied, wanting to know what happens next. I was also disappointed by the extreme personality change Viktor goes through at the very end of the book which does not match up with his character. Overall I would stay away from this book unless you are looking for a dark and sometimes confusing mystery that will leave you asking questions.

    4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted August 7, 2013

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    Posted August 13, 2011

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