Short and bitter-sweet, this is writing stripped bare of luxuries and all the inconsequentials of life. It is familiar Kurkov territory. Kiev. Someone adrift in a bleak, post Soviet world. Winter. Waiting. All delivered with Kurkov’s sharp, dark wit.
Tolya, tired (or maybe just bored) with life, decides to commit suicide by hiring a hit man to kill him. Being a Kurkov novel, things do not go as planned. And we are given a glimpse not just of personal struggles in a country still coming to terms with social upheaval, but also of society itself.
Yet, for all this, there is a curious life-affirming quality about the work. Perhaps it is because it deals with fundamentals, with birth, death, personal relationships. We see a glimpse of what is important in life.
It did not take very long to read this book. It is going to take a lot longer to absorb and ponder the detailed, often enigmatic picture it paints.