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Homo Zapiens Paperback – Jan 2003


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Product details

  • Paperback: 250 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (Jan. 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0142001813
  • ISBN-13: 978-0142001813
  • Product Dimensions: 13.4 x 1.6 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 826,897 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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First Sentence
Once upon a time in Russia there really was a carefree, youthful generation that smiled in joy at the summer, the sea and the sun, and chose Pepsi. Read the first page
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By V. Jonsson on 3 Dec. 2003
Format: Paperback
This must be the freshest piece of writing I have come across in years. Simply put, the book is a farce about advertising in post communist Russia. A former translater of Uzbek poetry starts translating advertising form the west and adjusting them to the SOVIET MENTALITY. Put it on your must-read list.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 14 reviews
28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
Watch your wow-impulse. 22 April 2003
By GK - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I am writing this mainly in defence of the translator. I totally disagree with a previous review that blamed Andrew Bromfield for spoiling the book with his "dull, dispassionate British English". Being a native Russian speaker, I have read this novel both in Russian and now in English. I attest that Bromfield does a fabulous job of conveying the message in a crisp and lucid way. The translation is not perfect in that it does not render all subtle allusions, of which are many, equally well, but let's be fair and don't ask for the impossible. As for the qualities of the novel itself, it's not as balanced as Buddha's Little Finger (aka Clay Machine-Gun) but it has quite a few masterfully done images of the post-Soviet reality. And the wow-impulse idea is just brilliant. My advice to a Western reader: do not be tricked by the capricious plot and weird characters; yet do not look for a deeper meaning and hidden references in every sentence. The bitter absurdity of today's Russia is a stage from which Pelevin makes some major statements, which are put forth forcefully and bluntly.
PS: this book is sometimes sold as Babylon.
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Zen way of Pepsi Generation 15 Feb. 2002
By "andreiy" - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This novel (it's Russian title is "Generation "P" where "P" stays for Pepsi) became a cult book in Russia not only among intellectuals. It excellently depicts the general atmosphere of confusion, unreality and at the same time ironic sarcasm that was so typical for Russians in the middle of 90's. The transformation of Russia from despotic `socialism' to anarchic `capitalism' can be compared to culture shock known to anyone who lived in a foreign country long enough. First, you are euphoric about that new country, its people and customs, then a month later you start to hate it, then comes the time of confusion and after a year or so you learn how to live with it.
The protagonist of the novel Tatarsky acts a typical young Moscovite using every opportunity to find some firm ground in the confusing world of free economy. He becomes a successful copywriter who compensates his total lack of knowledge in advertising by artful citations from Trout's book "Positioning: a battle for your mind" and inventive `localization' of American commercials. Some time later he moves into the sphere of high politics only to discover that all Russian politicians are nothing but virtual digital images run on TV by his own scripts under strict supervision by American government. Who's behind this conspiracy? Who runs the show? Why people believe it all? No spoilers here but the final answer is both unexpected and "Buddhistic" as all of Pelevin's novels and stories.
It would be a mistake to think that this novel is about confusion in post-perestroka Russia. Pelevin satire aims mostly at American values and way of life and mind manipulation brought by mass media, advertising and globalization. This novel is about transition between a real and tangible world to the virtual reality of brands, politics and Hollywood standards. When you're suddenly trapped in this transition you can either accept it or find solution in zen philosophy. My favorite one is a zen way of watching TV - first you watch it with picture off but sound on, then with picture on but sound off, and only real zen masters watch TV with both picture and sound off.
A note for those who read other Pelevin's book - this is probably his first `real' novel. Pelevin is a master of short stories and his previous novels were usually a collection of stories sewn by a loose plot. "Homo Zapiens" is different.
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Generation "P" 2 April 2002
By Anna Zaigraeva - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
this was the original title, i have no idea why they changed it.
this book is a side-splitting, hair-raising, bone-chilling, toe-curling adventure. you don't have to know Soviet/post-Soviet history, but it helps.
Pelevin is one of the most gifted young Russian authors out there. he usually gets compared to Phillip K. Dick and Gogol, but i'd rather compare him to Tom Stoppard. the reason being that Pelevin has an incredible ear for what's funny, thought-provoking, and chilling at the same time. his erudition works in his favor: the book is full of word-play and contains layers upon layers of meaning, but never sounds overly cryptic or academic...
17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Amazing book. Horrible translation. 23 Feb. 2002
By "vic24" - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This is an excellent book, and the other reviewers have done it justice. Unfortunately, I must give it 4 stars, because a work of genius in this case has been marred by Andrew Bromfield's travesty of a translation. Bromfield's command of the English language is sorely lacking compared to Pelevin's command of Russian. Pelevin does a spectacular job of combining Russian colloquialisms, intelligent discourse and hilarious verse. Bromfield crumples all of the above into an unattractive monolith of dull, dispassionate British English. It seems like he invested the least time possible into this work, because sections that might have been difficult to translate, are rewritten completely, capturing none of the intricacies of the originals. The result, to use a metaphor, is something that you would get if you xerox a work of Salvador Dali, cut it into pieces, and then tape it back together. It is really a shame that the task of translating the works of one of the greatest modern Russian writers has been entrusted to a hack. At this time, however, there's no other translations available, so I must recommend that you buy this book, even if to just get a glimpse of Pelevin's original work, and acquaint yourself with his ideas. I sincerely hope, that a writer of much higher caliber than Bromfield would take on the task of writing a translation that would do this book justice.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Fifth leg of that dog or view from inside 30 Aug. 2013
By Alexander - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
Just one point to help tuning readers' expectations before starting with this book. The change of name of English version from original Generation P (where P is not always de-abbrevated as Pepsi, but also as more rude word from non-formal Russian meaning the "full disaster"--one could find connotations to this inside the book in the story about five legs dog sleeping in a far-North-country) to Homo Zappiens perfectly reflects common misunderstanding of the subject (actually object) of this book.

Homo Zappiens is just the hopeless future predicted by Pelevin, yet the book itself, as well as all Pelevin's masterpieces from Omon-Rha till Batman-Apollo, is about Russian Generation of 80-th. It is a scrutiny report of how the mindset of this generation evolved (or degraded if you'd prefer) in this period of time. You won't find adequate picture of Russian material world reality in Pelevin's books, but you would see very exact description of how this reality had been reflected in the minds of young people whose miserable destiny was to live (and die) in USSR->Russia in 1980-201x.

Unfortunately for English readers this description is written in the language fully understandable mainly by this generation using cultural archetypes of late soviet - young new-russian time in typically Pelevin's manner: mixed layers of allusions and connotations to cultural images building Generation P systems of coordinates and values. This fact drastically narrows the potential target audience, but for those who are still firm to dive in Pelevin's Universe - good luck and... well, thanks for Your interest to us!
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