James’ book corner – Death and the Penguin

May 29, 2020 | First Edition Translations, Language, Literature, Miscellaneous, Musings, Translation

death and the penguinAs you might expect from the team at a translation agency, we are avid readers who often enjoy translated literature. This week James has brought us an interesting lockdown-read, Death and the Penguin by Ukrainian author Andrey Kurkov.

The novel is about an aspiring writer, Viktor who lives with his pet penguin, Misha. Just like any other rookie author, he dreams of being published. However, he can only get a job writing obituaries at the local newspaper and even they won’t get published. Well, of course they won’t be printed if the subjects just refuse to kick the bucket! But things are not as simple as they might seem and Viktor soon discovers that there is more to these obituaries he has to write than he thought…

“This is a book that I only recently read, but which has become a favourite,” James says. “It is both beautiful and a little unnerving. And there is a penguin, who I believe is just one of the best characters in literature, even though he never says a word. What makes this book extra special for me as a linguist is the fact that it is translated so gorgeously from the original Russian (by a gentleman called George Bird). It doesn’t read as a translation and the turns of phrase are just brilliant. Thoroughly recommend it and will be looking out for other works not just by this author, but also by this translator as well.”

Death and the Penguin was first published in 1996 in Russian, and in 2001 in English.

Source of image and more info on the book: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/152893.Death_and_the_Penguin


Have you read anything exciting, intriguing or something that made you think? Share your recommendations with us!