The Bickford Fuse
By Andrey Kurkov
A satirical epic of the Soviet soul by the bestselling author of Death and the Penguin
Catch-22 meets The Brothers Karamazov in the last great satire of the Soviet Era
The Great Patriotic War is stumbling to a close, but a new darkness has fallen over Soviet Russia. And for a disparate, disconnected clutch of wanderers - many thousands of miles apart but linked by a common goal - four parallel journeys are just beginning.
Gorych and his driver, rolling through water, sand and snow on an empty petrol tank; the occupant of a black airship, looking down benevolently as he floats above his Fatherland; young Andrey, who leaves his religious community in search of a new life; and Kharitonov, who trudges from the Sea of Japan to Leningrad, carrying a fuse that, when lit, could blow all and sundry to smithereens.
Written in the final years of Communism, The Bickford Fuse is a satirical epic of the Soviet soul, exploring the origins and dead-ends of the Russian mentality from the end of World War Two to the Union's collapse. Blending allegory and fable with real events, and as deliriously absurd as anything Kurkov has written, it is both an elegy for lost years and a song of hope for a future not yet set in stone.
Translated from the Russian by Boris Dralyuk
Born near Leningrad in 1961, Kurkov was a journalist, prison warder, cameraman and screenplay-writer before his novels took off. He received "hundreds of rejections" and was a pioneer of self-publishing, selling more than 75,000 copies of his books in a single year. His novel Death and the Penguin, his first in English translation, was an international bestseller, drawing acclaim from all quarters. He lives in Kiev with his English wife and their three children.
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- Publication date:
15 Jun 2017
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Kurkov's style is spare and effective, drawing us with deceptive ease into a dense, complex world full of wonderful characters. — Michael Palin.
Kurkov is the real thing . . . Comparisons with Bulgakov's zany Moscow are not far-fetched. — Kapka Kassabova, Guardian.
Some people see him as a latter-day Bulgakov; to others he's a Ukrainian Murakami. — Phoebe Taplin, Guardian.
His bestselling novels are known for their surreal touches, but Andrey Kurkov, the Ukrainian novelist hailed as a post-Soviet Kafka, also has an uncanny ability to predict events in the real world around him. — Daily Telegraph.
Beguiling ... frequently funny ... completely its own thing. it may even be a little bit of a masterpiece — Sam Leith, Financial Times
A kind of Ukrainian Kurt Vonnegut . . . If you want to read about the Soviet Union but can't face reading, say, Robert Service, and you have a penchant for the strange and surreal, you could do worse than reading Kurkov. — Ian Samson, Spectator.
A sharp and funny examination of the Russian soul — Eileen Battersby, Irish Times