28 November 2007

Andrey Kurkov, A Matter of Death and Life, 1996

At just thirty, Tolya is sick of life in Kiev and his failed marriage and sets himself up to be the next job for an acquaintance of an acquaintance: a hitman. But what can he do when, before the appointed hour on his last day, small opportunities come his way and he changes his mind, choosing to carry on instead? Kurkov sets up a bleakly comic situation but doesn’t play it for laughs, instead relying on some untidy situational complexities and possibilities to keep the reader engaged. Nevertheless it’s a realistically told and sometimes cynical domestic drama, and the sting in the tail is one you’ll never see coming.   PY

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