Book review: Pushkin Hills, By Sergei Dovlatov Alma

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Uproarious, reckless, zany, Sergei Dovlatov (who died in American exile in 1990) belonged to the last generation of dissident authors in the doomed USSR.

In this short, breakneck novel, a sort of pitch-black literary farce, the alcoholic writer Boris Alikhanov takes a tour-guide job on Pushkin's country estate.

Vodka-fuelled mishaps, grotesque comic cameos and – above all – quick-fire dialogue that swings and stings propel this furious twilight romp (translated by the author's daughter Katherine) from the final days of Soviet power.