Viktor has a rather odd job – he writes “living obituaries”. That is, he interviews famous people then files the obituary to wait until the subject dies. Viktor also has a rather odd pet. He rescued a penguin from the Kiev Zoo. He gets mixed up in the Russian mafia who take a supremely weird fancy to having the penguin attend their funerals. He winds up minding the young daughter of a shady acquaintence. Then his “living obituary” subjects begin dying at an alarming rate….
Death and the Penguin is a darkly comic novel. Not funny ha-ha but funny in the way that Mikhail Bulgakov is funny. For instance, Viktor’s penguin is named Misha. But then Viktor meets his shady acquaintence – also named Misha. So ensues a section of the book where Misha-not-penguin is referred to. The ending is also a surprise.
I’m not sure when I’ll get to the next book – Penguin Lost – or any other Kurkov novels but I’m not averse.