Although Kurkovs harsh critique of society in general and especially misplaced values remains unchanged, I felt that it lost some of its edge. Penguin Lost is a worthy sequel to Death and the Penguin.
Apoi, reflect Viktor, vin cuvintele de gradul al doilea ca importan, iar ele sunt mai lungi: iubire, cldur, bogie, fericire. Cuvintele cele mai puin importante sunt în acelai timp i cele mai lungi.
At the end of Death and the Penguin, Viktor was fleeing vengeance on an Antarctica-bound flight which had been booked for Misha the penguin. Once back in Kiev, Viktor tries to find Misha. Viktor feels bad (as he should) for abandoning poor Misha who was recovering from a heart transplant and who would really have been much happier in Antarctica.
He still has a child and girlfriend to deal with, but he abandonned Misha the penguin after arranging a heart transplant for the bird, and now someone has him and Viktor is determinned to rescue his pet.
I could see what the author was doing--mirroring the sense of helpless disinterest of the post-Soviet world and creating a character who is actually a minor character on the fringes of a much bigger story only hinted it--but I just didn't find it compelling.
Viktor is guilt ridden after abandoning his unusual pet - an emperor penguin named Misha, - and sailing off to Antartica to save his own life. This exquisite irony of a penguin staying in a city and a human opting to while away life in the Arctic sets the tone for events to follow. Under circumstances that can only be described as unusual (and that is putting it mildly), Viktor is forced to return to Kiev and his reunion with his city sets him off on a determined search to trace the whereabouts of his dear penguin. Viktor's efforts to save Misha leads him to strike dangerous dalliances, swallow unsavoury secrets and even operate an electric crematorium where the unrelenting line of bodies to be burnt epitomizes the dangerous state of a Chechenyan existence.
Viktor returns from Antarctica with some ill-gotten gains and finds Mischa disappeared. Sonya and Nina are all right, but Viktor leaves in search of Mischa, who has been taken to Moskow, In Moskow, he finds it has been taken to Chechnya (then in the middle of the worst of its war) where it is owned by a Chechen entrepreneur named Khachayev. What remains in my memory, however, is the sad, good-hearted household of Viktor, consisting of a penguin, a jealous cat, a legless Afghan War veteran, Sonya, and Nina.
Kurkov is never one to do things by halves and Penguin Lost opens to find Viktor a world away from Misha the penguin in Antarctica. In a moment of inspiration, Viktor creates an arm wrestling team to try to get Misha to Antarctica. While Misha is missing for some of this book, his return gives the story a more human feel (Viktor seems a bit lonely traipsing the world alone) as well as giving the opportunity for a penguin to visit McDonalds.
Interesting and engagingly emotive though it is in many parts, ironically, without Penguin Misha, Viktor's story seems a good deal less human.
In 1983 he graduated Kyiv Pedagogical Academy of Foreign Languages.