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The Life of Insects [Paperback]

Victor Pelevin
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

19 April 1999
Set in a crumbling Soviet Black Sea resort, The Life of Insects with its motley cast of characters who exist simultaneously as human beings (racketeers, mystics, drug addicts and prostitutes) and as insects, extended the surreal comic range for which Pelevin's first novel Omon Ra was acclaimed by critics. With consummate literary skill Pelevin creates a satirical bestiary which is as realistic as it is delirious - a bitter parable of contemporary Russia, full of the probing, disenchanted comedy that makes Pelevin a vital and altogether surprising writer.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Faber and Faber; New Ed edition (19 April 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571194052
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571194056
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.7 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 562,393 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Born in 1962 in Moscow, Victor Pelevin has swiftly been recognised as the leading Russian novelist of the new generation. Before studying at Moscow's Gorky Institute of Literature, he worked in a number of jobs, including as an engineer on a project to protect MiG fighter planes from insect interference in tropical conditions. One of the few novelists today who writes seriously about what is happening in contemporary Russia, he has, according to the New York Times, 'the kind of mordant, astringent turn of mind that in the pre-glasnost era landed writers in psychiatric hospitals or exile'.$$$His work has been translated into fifteen languages and his novels Omon Ra, The Life of Insects, The Clay Machine-Gun and Babylon, and two collections of short stories, The Blue Lantern (winner of the Russian 'Little Booker' Prize) and A Werewolf Problem in Central Russia, have been published in English to great acclaim.$$$Victor Pelevin was selected by the New Yorker as one of the best European writers under the age of thirty-five.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sad, beautiful, satitic and surreal - WOW! 15 July 1999
By A Customer
The pace and vitality of the prose alone should be enough to recommend this fantastic book, but there is so much more.
You have, from the outset, that unnerving sense that everything is not quite as it seems. Then, sure enough, the three characters you have just met fly off to an apartment block where they land on a window ledge before diving at a sleeping man's neck and sucking his blood. No, not vampire bats, but mosquitoes.
Later, we meet moth/humans, cockroach/humans, ant/humans - in fact, it seems that for every human level there is a corresponding insect. As a device, the insect world is a rich and creative metaphoric scythe which Pelevin yields masterfully, taking glancing blows at each of us as we're reduced to our insect role in the world. Some of us have our heads continually buried in the dirt, some fly blindly towards our destinies, others do nothing but work.
It is the way humans transform into insects that is most staggering though. Mostly without warning, but brilliantly woven into the particular situation as though the human/insect dual life were an everyday occurence, these transformations reveal the tenuousnous of the positions we rigidly occupy. In this way, the stories of insect transformation are strangely liberating, and yet at turns very sad as a careless hand flicking something annoying away from a face kills a mosquito, or a moth extinguished by the very fire it swarms towards confirms our transitory and rather arbritary existence.
What more can I say?
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Life of Insects: This is not Kafka 8 May 2001
By A Customer
This cannot be commended highly enough. Attempts at a description of the storylines would do them no real justice. The feeling of Zen mysticism pervades the book and seems to pull together the surreal fairytale universe it creates from the aftermathn of the Soviet collapse. Just buy it. Then buy the Clay machine Gun.
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