It's the year 2013 and Bunin, the Ukranian president, has joined other heads of state in an open-air swimming pool to drink vodka and celebrate Putin's legacy.
During his semi-accidental rise, Bunin has battled with a range of challenges, but his recent heart transplant troubles him most, leaving him with a bad outbreak of freckles and an unhealthy relationship with his heart donor's widow.
Moving between stories of Bunin's misspent Soviet youth and the politics of the near future, Kurkov's touching and multi-layered satire sheds a suprisingly mellow light on life and lies before and after the iron curtain.
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