The Life of Insects by Victor PelevinSet in a crumbling Soviet Black Sea resort, The Life of Insects with its motley cast of characters who exist simultaneously as human beings (racketeers, mystics, drug addicts and prostitutes) and as insects, extended the surreal comic range for which Pelevins first novel Omon Ra was acclaimed by critics. With consummate literary skill Pelevin creates a satirical bestiary which is as realistic as it is delirious - a bitter parable of contemporary Russia, full of the probing, disenchanted comedy that makes Pelevin a vital and altogether surprising writer.
Viktor Pelevin: S. N. U. F. F. -- Utopia
The Life of Insects
I t's easy, particularly in the corporate world, to view people as animals: the gossiping hyena clerk, the doggedly faithful second in command, or the beautiful peacock strutting and showing off his newest suit. However, how often do you view your friends or coworkers as insects? In The Life of Insects by Russian writer Victor Pelevin translated by Andrew Bromfield the characters metamorphose from human to insect and back from sentence to sentence, sometimes pausing in a human-insect combination to emphasize the absurdities of life. It's a funny, satirical trip through post Communist Russia, seen through the eyes of characters that aren't quite stereotypes, but could be in different hands: the mother ant fighting to get fresh food from nearly empty markets; the pot-smoking liberals trying to hide their stash from the secret police; the permanently unemployed, philosophical moth, endlessly debating whether to fly into the light or not. This book has generally been reviewed as "literature," perhaps because it's translated from the Russian.
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Thank you! Pelevin's story consists of a number of linked episodes all set in the immediate environs of a seaside resort hotel where Samuel Sacker, a visiting American businessman, confers with his Russian associates-to-be Arthur and Arnold.
Translated by Andrew Bromfield. Vivid in its essence yet puzzling at times in its detail, this Russian novel is a slippery piece of work -- more so, say, than Pelevin's ''Omon Ra,'' which describes a highly irregular Soviet space-race episode and then spells out the incriminating truths behind it. Pelevin withholds any such easy explanations in ''The Life of Insects. Indeed, these uncertainties run so deep that they routinely put the characters' very species into doubt, as they seemingly change from moment to moment. With this absurdist approach, Pelevin delves deeply into the illusory lure of political ideology, the sense of loss that occurs when this ideology fails and the way even yearned-for social changes can undermine the essence of individual and collective identity. Put in these terms, ''The Life of Insects'' may sound like a political lecture. But given its lively cast of characters -- including Marina, an airborne future ant queen who lands on a Black Sea boardwalk in a denim skirt and red stiletto heels, and Mitya and Dima, two philosophizing moths who engage in a literally cliffhanging life-or-death battle with a bat -- it's clearly no ordinary diatribe.
I should start off saying I detest Kafka, so there wasn't a ton of hope that Victor Pelevin's novel "The Life of Insects" was going to get a high rating for me. Pelevin takes Kafka's ideas from "The A blistering read from a mind that wanders far over the edge of expected limitations. It's just bugs, but it's people, it's countries, stereotypes, it's who we are, why we are, what we are. It's ants