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Homo Zapiensby Victor Pelevin
Synopses & Reviews
Chronicling the garish excesses of post-Soviet Russia, Victor Pelevin's novels have won him cult status at home and critical acclaim in the international press. In his new novel, Homo Zapiens, Pelevin weaves together a deliciously comic vision of vanity, greed, and advertising-Moscow style. The collapse of the Soviet Union has opened up a vast market ripe for exploitation. Everybody wants a piece of the action. But how do you sell things to a generation that grew up with just one brand of cola? Enter Tartarsky, the hero of Homo Zapiens, a lowly shop assistant who is hired as a copywriter and discovers a hidden talent for devising home-grown alternatives to Western ads. Tartarsky is propelled into a world of gangsters, spin doctors, and drug dealers, fueled by cocaine and hallucinogenic mushrooms. But as his fortunes soar, reality loosens its grip and old certainties crumble. Who is the boss-man or his television set? When advertisers talk about "twisting reality," do they mean it quite literally? And exactly what does go on at the Institute of Apiculture?
This is a stunning and ingenious work of imagination, humor, and poignance, a satire that cuts both ways, East and West. It confirms Pelevin as the true heir of Gogol, Dostoevsky, and Bulgakov, a powerful voice of Russian absurdism.
"Sometimes Pelevin seems heavy-handed....But it doesn't matter: Pelevin's so funny, sharp and engaging that not only do you forgive him his excesses, you look forward to them." Suzy Hansen, Salon.com (read the entire Salon review)
"As with much of Pelevin's previous fiction, Homo Zapiens grows increasingly silly as it approaches denouement, and Tatarsky mires in a conspiracy only Pelevin could cook up. Pelevin expends a great deal of energy developing this plot twist, and then topping it with even stranger ones." Denver Post
"This isn't new ground for him; as in his previous books, Pelevin delights in creating dizzying sometimes just confusing narratives evoking the peculiar realities of first the Soviet Union and now Russia....No Chekhovian introspection here, nor much plot; perhaps there's no time for such things in the new Russia." Publishers Weekly
"In his latest novel in translation, the author of Buddha's Little Finger once again enlivens an offbeat satire of contemporary Russia with esoteric teachings." Frank Caso, Booklist
"Victor Pelevin is one of the funniest novelists writing today and this book is an antidote to anguished moralizing over Russia and its souls." The New Statesman
"[A] bold, confidently written satire with more than a few laugh-out-loud moments." Time Out New York
"Like an early absurdist novel by Kurt Vonnegut, Pelevin's satire has intellectual invention — forays into Babylonian history, a sophisticated discussion of virtual reality — and savagely witty parodies of American ad campaigns." Tom LeClair, Book Magazine
"Pelevin savagely skewers consumerist society, but he does it in such an underhanded way that you're not always aware of the acid....If this work isn't as exuberant and wildly inventive as Buddha's Little Finger, it's partly that Pelevin is such a good writer he can't help being a little bit trammeled by the language of advertising." Library Journal
"[Pelevin] conjures up the spirit of Dostoyevsky, as he dramatizes with a slashing wit and a ferocious moralism the battle for the Russian soul." The Washington Post
"Pelevin's hardboiled wonderland of a Moscow sits well next to Murakami's Tokyo, Cortázar's Paris, and Terry Gilliam's Brazil." Los Angeles Times
The collapse of the Soviet Union has opened up a huge consumer market, but how do you sell things to a generation that grew up with just one type of cola? When Tatarsky, a frustrated poet, takes a job as an advertising copywriter, he finds he has a talent for putting distinctively Russian twists on Western-style ads. But his success leads him into a surreal world of spin doctors, gangsters, drug trips, and the spirit of Che Guevera, who, by way of a Ouija board, communicates theories of consumer theology. A bestseller in Russia, Homo Zapiens displays the biting absurdist satire that has gained Victor Pelevin superstar status among today's Russian youth, disapproval from the conservative Moscow literary world, and critical acclaim worldwide.
About the Author
Victor Pelevin was born in 1962 in Moscow and has swiftly become recognized as the leading Russian author of his generation.
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