Fardwor, Russia!: A Fantastical Tale of Life Under Putin – Oleg Kashin, (Translated from the Russian by Will Evans)

(Reviewed by JD Jung)

Exceptional

“Fardwor, Ruissa!” The girls at the mental hospital mean “Forward, Russia!”, but it doesn’t come out that way, and as everything else, is blown out of proportion. That is one aside but amusing part of the political satire, Fardwor, Russia.

Amateur inventor, 29 year old Karpov, suddenly urges his wife that they must immediately leave Moscow and return to his hometown of Goa. Though she has never been there, she doesn’t question him. All he says is that they will become rich and famous; and if that doesn’t happen in a year’s time, she can leave him.

Once there, he introduces his invention: a serum to increase the size of rats. Upon perfecting it, he decides to experiment on midgets, which is against the law, but no one seems to care. One midget, Vasya who works at the circus agrees to try it. It is such a success that he is brought to Moscow to go on television. Another midget, the son of a deceased business mogul, Mefody, sees the show and wants the serum. Soon everyone is after it: from those in organized crime to the Federal Security Service (FSB). In fact, the FSB kidnaps Karpov and murders flourish.

Unfortunately, the powers that be want to try this serum on patients in a mental hospital, or should I say the occupants “are basically normal, but…their cultural baggage differs …by several orders of magnitude…from the cultural baggage of the average Russian…” Actually, these adults are studying at grade-school level. Will this serum raise, even slightly, their mental capacity?

Author, and controversial Russian journalist, Oleg Kashin keeps the laughs coming as he goes off in so many directions on a road that appears to go nowhere. But does it matter? As each  bizarre event ensues, our narrator claims that it are so absurd that people won’t believe it anyway. Even if you’re not familiar or interested in Russian politics, fans of satire and off-beat, over-the-top humor will love Fardwor, Russia.

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One Response to Fardwor, Russia!: A Fantastical Tale of Life Under Putin – Oleg Kashin, (Translated from the Russian by Will Evans)

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