Book review: Pushkin Hills, By Sergei Dovlatov Alma
Boyd Tonkin is Literary Editor at The Independent. An award-winning journalist, he was formerly Social Policy Editor of the New Statesman and has broadcast extensively for BBC arts and current affairs programmes. He has judged the Booker Prize, the Whitbread biography award, the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the David Cohen Prize for a lifetime's achievement in literature.
Friday 11 October 2013
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.
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