Andrey Kurkov

Andrey Kurkov

Andrey Kurkov (born in 1961 in Leningrad, Russia) is a Ukrainian novelist who writes in Russian. His father was a test pilot for the Soviet Union and his mother was a doctor. He is the author of 13 novels and 5 books for children. His work is currently translated into 25 languages including English, Japanese, French, Chinese and Hebrew. He has also written assorted articles for various publications world-wide.

His books are full of black humour, post-Soviet reality and elements of surrealism.

Life and Works

Kurkov started writing at the age of seven when after the death of two of his three pet hamsters, he wrote a poem about the loneliness of the remaining pet. He also produced poetry about Lenin, purportedly inspired by his Soviet education at the time..

As a trained Japanese translator Kurkov was assigned military service assisting the KGB. However, he managed to get his papers changed to service with the military police. This offered him a greater degree of freedom during and after his service period. He was assigned a prison guard position in Odessa. It was during this period that Kurkov managed to write all of his children's stories.

Kurkov's first novel was published two weeks before the fall of the Soviet Union and in the ensuing social and political turmoil he made the first steps towards self-publishing and distribution. Borrowing money from friends to fund his work he managed to publish around 75,000 books independently. Whilst organising distribution around Ukraine, he would also man stalls on busy streets to sell copies by hand.

Like many successful writers Kurkov had difficulty establishing an initial publishing contract. He reportedly received 500 rejections before being accepted in which time he had written almost eight complete novels.

Later in his career he has received further acclaim by being one of the most successful Ukrainian authors in the post-Soviet era and featuring highly on European bestseller lists.

It is interesting to note that as a Ukrainian writing in Russian, Kurkov has come under criticism from some of his contemporaries for not supporting the blossoming Ukrainian literary movement.


*"Death and the Penguin"
*"Penguin Lost"
*"A Matter of Death and Life"
*"The Case of the General's Thumb"
*"The World of Mr Big Forehead"
*"The President's Last Love"

For Children:
*"The Adventures of Baby Vacuum Cleaner Gosha"

External links

* [ ABC National Radio - A recent interview]
* [ The Ukrainian Observer: "Andrey Kurkov: Ukraine's Literary Success"]

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