Andrey Kurkov [ Ukraine ]


© Hartwig Klappert

© Hartwig Klappert

Guest 2015


Ukraine Diaries: Dispatches from Kiev, 2014

The Gardener from Ochakov, 2013
The Milkman in the Night, 2011
The Good Angel of Death, 2010
The President’s Last Love, 2009


Other languages:
Ukrainisches Tagebuch. Aufzeichnungen aus dem Herzen des Protests, 2014
Der unbeugsame Papagei, 2013
Der wahrhaftige Volkskontrolleur, 2011
Die letzte Liebe des Präsidenten, 2007
Picknick auf dem Eis, 1999



Andrej Kurkov was born in Budugošč’ near Leningrad (St. Petersburg today) in 1961. He graduated in 1983 from the National Pedagogical Institute for Foreign Languages in Kiev, and has worked in different professions.

He started writing when still at school, and has published various novels and five children’s books to date. The prism of his surreal and satirically exaggerated prose provides an analytical – at times even prophetic – view of existing conditions in his post-Soviet homeland. Early works, such as the thrillers »Smert’ postoronnego« (1996; Eng. »Death and the Penguin«, 2010), »Dobryj angel smerti« (2000; Eng. »The Good Angel of Death«, 2009), and »Milyj drug, tovarišč pokojnika« (2001; Eng. »A Friend of the Deceased«, 1997), are dynamic portrayals of a post-Perestroika Kiev. The heroes are animals or loney, marginalized figures who have failed to make a place for themselves in a demoralized and selfish society. Kurkov’s detective stories are told in a – given the genre – atypically calm narrative flow, and in a mostly melancholic mood. He also writes social novels that raise political and philosophical questions. »Poslednjaja ljubov’ presidenta« (2005; Eng. »The President’s Last Love«, 2009) is about the fictitious Ukrainian President Bunin, who increasingly becomes the plaything of his advisors. The grotesque tale refers to the dubious figures in recent Ukrainian history − Victor Juščenko and Julia Timošenko. His anthology of short stories »Herbstfeuer« (2007, tr. Autumn Fire) is also playful and full of the black humour which characterizes Kurkov’s prose. The novel »Nočnoj moločnik« (2007, Eng. »The Milkman in the Night«, 2011) once again reflects the absurdities of everyday life in Kiev, by recounting the life of the Ukrainian middle class in the suburbs of the capital, which tries to keep afloat by offering any service possible. In »Skazanie ob istinno narodnom kontrolere« (tr. The People’s Controller) he oscillates between reality and imagination in the story of Pavel Dobrynin, who unexpectedly is elected the »People’s Inspector for Life for the entire Soviet Union«. On his travels he meets most scintillating characters, including an angel who has deserted, and who is trying to find an upright Soviet citizen, because there isn’t a single one of them in heaven as yet. In »Ukraine Diaries. Dispatches from Kiev« (2014), the author chronicles the events of the the revolution as they happened in the Ukrainian capital where he also lives.

Kurkov has written screenplays for more than 20 films and worked as a scriptwriter for the National Film Studio A. Dovženko in Kiev. He has received many awards, such as the Nikolai Gogol Prize in Rome in 2012 and Readers’ Choice Award at the European Literary Festival in Cognac.