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The literary dormitory at Moscow University becomes a kind of Russian Grand Hotel, serving the last supper of empire to a host of writers gathered from every corner of the continent, and beyond. Young poets from Vietnam, Mongolia, Yakutia, Uzbekistan, Russia, and Ukraine assemble to study, drink, frolic, and explore each other and the decaying city around them. When the supper turns into a bacchanal, who's surprised? "The empire betrayed its drunks. And thus doomed itself to disintegration." Part howl, part literary slapstick, part joyful dirge, charged with the brashness of youth, betraying the vision of the permanent outsider, Andrukhovych's novel suggests that literature really is news that stays news. Funny, buoyant, flamboyant, ground-breaking, and as revelatory today as when it was first published in Ukrainian, The Moscoviad remains a literary milestone. In spirit and intellectual brio Andrukhovych, whose irreverence makes Borat seem pious, is kin to the great Halldor Laxness and the venerable David Foster Wallace. --Askold Melnyczuk
drink, pouring for themselves into the empty liter ones. Actually, you didn’t need to drag the jars all the way here, to the vending machines, but it wouldn’t be prudent to leave them unattended—this would be a fatal dilettante error. They would disappear immediately. One would then have to buy empty ones (for the same three rubles) from a local syphilitic. The vending machine, having unhurriedly eaten nearly fifty of your coins, at last squirted out the desired three liters. Next time you
midst of empty bottles, half-hugging each other, but without achieving anything more substantial in this department. At times we crawled over each other, confusing our own hair with the carpet fibers, and table legs with those of the waiters. At times we puked. Once we tried to take a bath together, but the morning saw in the bathtub only me, fully dressed, while she, completely naked, was lying next to it on the floor, and the tiles left their marks on her skin. All this amused us very much.
Let’s draw the line, he said. The next day, without going inside any premises, in one of the side streets, he informed me that our from now on our relations ended. I can consider myself free from all obligations, except one—keeping our unsuccessful attempt to work together, as he called it, a secret. This final obligation I am solemnly breaking right now, Your Mercy, by writing this letter. I leak out this secret. Amen. I am not guilty towards anyone. I didn’t say a word to my recently deceased
up. This happened on the first floor, where the fairytale vertical journey had begun the night before. Having come to his senses after a heavy reindeer herder’s dream, Vasya finally crawled out of the elevator and stumbled over to the beer hall on Fonvizin Street to greet the light of the new day. And now you too, Otto von F., are on the ground floor. Stepping out of the elevator, you take a left and go down the stairs, hopefully there will still be enough hot water for you in the filthy shower
Perhaps if one pulls at this stub of wiring here, a cave would open with diamonds for the proletarian dictatorship. Or a city would suddenly fly into air, say Maastricht. For the empire was capable of everything. And it still is now. Here you’ve been poking fun at me, mocking me, and I have just discovered an armored door that opened automatically. Then I ran twelve steps down and found another door, twice as massive, with a biblical-sounding inscription, “BEFORE OPENING THIS DOOR, MAKE SURE