the latest novel by Vladimir Voinovich, one of the best-known and best-loved Soviet emigre writers, differs from other satires of Soviet life in that it takes that irrelevance — of ideas, of philosophies, of people, of morality — as its theme. This is a subject Voinovich should know well. An “official” Soviet writer whose works were published in the U.S.S.R. in the 1960s, he grew disillusioned first with Soviet propaganda and later with its opponents as well. In his long career, Voinovich has mocked everything from the Red Army, in The Life and Extraordinary Adventures of Private Ivan Chonkin, to the Soviet bureaucracy, in The Ivankiad. Exiled since 1980, he was reinstated in the 1990s. But if this new book is any guide, he doesn’t seem to think much of post-Soviet Russia either.
A brief excerpt from the novel appears to the right of the review.