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Penguin Lost

Penguin Lost

4.6 8
by Andrey Kurkov, George Bird (Translator)

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Penguin Lost finds Viktor Zolotaryov sneaking back into Kiev under an assumed identity to undertake a dangerous mission: He wants to find Misha, his penguin, whom he fears has fallen into the hands of the criminal mob looking for Viktor himself.

Guilt-ridden and determined to do what it takes, Viktor falls in with a Mafia boss who employs him in an


Penguin Lost finds Viktor Zolotaryov sneaking back into Kiev under an assumed identity to undertake a dangerous mission: He wants to find Misha, his penguin, whom he fears has fallen into the hands of the criminal mob looking for Viktor himself.

Guilt-ridden and determined to do what it takes, Viktor falls in with a Mafia boss who employs him in an election-rigging campaign, in return for introducing Viktor to other mobsters who can help him find Misha. And as Viktor goes from mobster to mobster, trying to survive in Kiev’s criminal underground, the evidence mounts that Misha may be someplace even worse: the zoo of a Chechen warlord.

What ensues is for Viktor both a quest and an odyssey of atonement, and for the reader, a stirring mix of the comic and the tragic, the heartbreaking and the inspiring.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this supersonically-paced, but ultimately tedious sequel to Death and the Penguin, Viktor Zolotaryov searches for his beloved missing penguin Misha. At the behest of ailing Muscovite Bronikovsky, heartbroken Viktor leaves the Drake Passage and returns to Kiev, where, under an assumed identity, he becomes involved in a hodge-podge of shady dealings. Whether disguised as Bronikovsky, dealing with a Chechen warlord, or rigging elections for a corrupt politician, Victor constantly longs for Misha. However, his journey to find Misha becomes a burdensome trudge as Kurkov piles on muddled events and an unmanageable cast of characters. Despite its seemingly simple premise, the novel suffers from an uncoordinated plot and an awkward translation: "Viktor was struck by one full-face portrait showing scar and broken nose to maximum advantage, with the plus of an animal-at-bay expression much at variance with the smug Hollywood smile of the airbrush portrait." Readers should be prepared for confusion. (Sept.)
From the Publisher
"Kurkov writes short, sly, page-turners that specialize in what we might call absurdist noir."
—John Powers, NPR's Fresh Air

“Anyone who gave themselves the pleasure of reading Death and the Penguin should certainly treat themselves to this sequel. And if you missed it, never mind, read this one anyway: it’s delicious.”
The Spectator

“There is more magic in his realism than in a library of witches and wizards.”
Scotland on Sunday

“Rich, authentic, and entertaining.”
—The New Statesman

Praise for Kurkov's Death and the Penguin

“A striking portrait of post-Soviet isolation.... In this bleak moral landscape Kurkov manages to find ample refuge for his dark humor.”
The New York Times

“Delicious... when Viktor finally finds Misha it is as if Woody Allen had gone to meet Kurtz.”         
The Spectator

“The deadpan tone works perfectly, and it will be a hard-hearted reader who is not touched by Viktor’s relationship with his unusual pet.”
The Times (London)

Library Journal
Focusing on one man's intense search for his missing penguin, this sequel to Kurkov's Death and the Penguin is suffused with mystery and intrigue. The novel begins with Viktor's return to Kiev, Ukraine, where he embarks on a circuitous journey to locate Misha, the penguin he was forced to abandon at the end of the last book. As he searches the underworld of Kiev, Moscow, and Chechnya, Viktor becomes entangled in the activities of a series of criminal figures. Kurkov vividly renders locations afflicted by war, upheaval, and corruption. Throughout this dark yet fascinating journey, the question arises: "Why this tortured quest to find a penguin?" The answer, we discover, lies in the way Misha's fate is tied to the question of Viktor's ultimate redemption. VERDICT At times, the translation into English from the original Russian interferes with a fluid reading of the text. Still, the story delivers a level of intrigue sufficient to capture and sustain the reader's attention. This novel will be of great interest to readers of eastern European literature and lovers of intricate plotlines.—Catherine Tingelstad, Pitt Community Coll., Greenville, NC

Product Details

Melville House Publishing
Publication date:
Melville International Crime Series
Product dimensions:
8.20(w) x 5.56(h) x 0.68(d)


Meet the Author

Andrey Kurkov, born in St. Petersburg in 1961, now lives in Kiev. Having graduated from the Kiev Foreign Languages Institute, he worked for some time as a journalist, did his military service as a prison warder at Odessa, then became a film cameraman, writer of screenplays, and author of critically acclaimed and popular novels. He is the author of Death and the Penguin and The Case of the General's Thumb.

George Bird has translated extensively from German and Russian. In 1986 he won the Pluto Crime Prize for his novel Death in Leningrad.

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Penguin Lost 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love pengys do you cuz if u dont ur tupid threr cool
CassWeston More than 1 year ago
This is a brilliant mixing of humor with the dark side of life in post-Soviet Union Russia.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you haven't read Kurkov's darkly satirical crime masterpiece, DEATH AND THE PENGUIN, do it now! It's an amazing, subversive, and totally engaging story about the corruption and mafia underworld of the Ukraine. PENGUIN LOST is the sequel and it's just as irresistible and disturbing. Misha (the penguin) is lost in Chechnya and his owner Viktor is trying to find him... meanwhile the bodies keep piling up. An amazing and original look at the troubles of Russia. A brilliant mystery that paints an unsettling (but darkly comic) portrait of a political reality.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
dragonfly74 More than 1 year ago
Penguin Lost and Death and The Penguin form one of the most fascinating post-soviet stories of the last few decades. Somehow Kurkov manages to capture the atmosphere of the noir tradition while at the same time inventing one of the great whimsical characters, Misha the penguin. It is a rare kind of book that will appeal to fans of hard boiled crime fiction as well as more "cozy" styles of mystery, not to mention the stray Bulgakov fan here and there.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Flynneous More than 1 year ago
In this sequel to Death and the Penguin, Andrey Kurkov picks up with Viktor, the main character. Feeling remorseful for leaving his convalescing penguin Misha in the lurch while he selfishly escaped the mob, Viktor decides he will return Kiev, his hometown, and try to set things right. When he returns, however, he finds himself again wrapped up with nefarious characters who waylay his ultimate goal of finding Misha. Just as his penguin is lost, Viktor feels he has lost much of himself as he has gotten dragged into everyone's plot but his own. With a little daring, he makes an attempt at freedom for Misha and himself. While the book does lag for a while and loses a steady voice in the middle, the uniqueness of the first book reappears and makes for a great read.