Books: Homo Zapiens

By Victor Pelevin

This picaresque nightmare of a novel was a best seller in its native Russia, where it appeared under the title Generation P--that's P as in Pepsi. It's the story of Babylen Tatarsky, a miserable adman hired by greedy mobsters to translate American jingles and adapt them for a newly capitalistic Russian marketplace. Tatarsky stands in for a whole generation trapped between a discredited Soviet past and a banal, Westernized future, and the absurdity of the situation sends him hunting through the seamy Muscovite underworld for some meaning at the bottom of it all. That he is coached on the way by...

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