Death & the Penguin - Friday & Sunday
News about our Ukraine fundraiser this week
Dear walking book clubbers,
Who’s ready for our Ukraine fundraisers?
Click on the picture above to link through to one of my Instagram reels celebrating our not-one-but-TWO fundraising walking book clubs this week.
I’m sure I’m not the only one of us who’s found it so moving to read this touchstone of Ukrainian literature while the war rages on. Reading about Victor’s life in Kyiv, or his failed trip to Kharkiv, while listening to reports on the radio of the current situation in these places is shocking.
The Ukraine of the novel is one in post-Soviet chaos, where loneliness and corruption thrive. It is bleak. Kurkov’s genius lies in showing this and somehow making it also very funny. I suppose having a pet penguin in a novel tends to add an element of the absurd, and time and again I’ve found myself almost embarrassed to be laughing out loud amidst the despair.
This is a vital time to come together in celebration of and support for Ukrainian culture. A reminder that ALL money from ticket sales will go to the DEC UKRAINE APPEAL.
Our May Ukraine Fundraiser Walks
Death and the Penguin by Andrey Kurkov translated by George Bird
Set in 1990s Kyiv, our protagonist is lonely aspiring writer Viktor, with just his pet penguin for company. Viktor lands a job writing obituaries for a newspaper, only to discover that he has in fact been drawn into a sinister political trap. Deadpan, absurd, gripping and moving, this highly original novel feels especially potent now.
At the Daunt Books Festival: Friday 20th May, 10.00-11.30am, setting off from Daunt Books, 84 Marylebone High St, London W1U 4QW.
On the Heath: Sunday 22nd May, 11.30-1pm, setting off from Daunt Books Hampstead, 51 South End Road, NW3 2QB
On Zoom: Monday 23rd May, 8-8.40pm
Zoom details in case of Eventbrite gremlins:
Zoom link HERE Meeting ID: 798 8728 9867 Passcode: Kurkov
*** I am 100% committed to keeping this newsletter free for those who need it to be, but if you enjoy being part of this community and are able to support Emily’s Walking Book Club financially by paying a small annual subscription of £20/year, then please do. Alternatively, you can pay £50/year to include a bespoke literary consultation with me. Feel free to drop me a line for more info. ***
More on Death and the Penguin
You can listen to Andrey Kurkov discussing Death and the Penguin on THIS GREAT EPISODE of BBC’s World Book Club.
And HERE IS Andrey Kurkov on the New Statesman’s World Review podcast talking about life in Kyiv under fire, and the role of artists during war.
Here he is on Democracy Now, talking about how the Russian war is targeting Ukraine’s culture. I’m ashamed to admit hadn’t realised that Gogol was Ukrainian.
June: Childhood by Tove Ditlevsen translated by Tiina Nunnally
Tickets are now on sale for our JUNE walk.
Tove knows she is a misfit, deemed odd for her love of words and writing ... This is a visceral depiction of the author's girlhood in working-class Copenhagen 100 years ago - a time and place that Tove knows she must leave behind.
Striking emotion, luminous images, and unforgettable statements abound in Ditlevsen's disarmingly pared-back prose, such as: "Childhood is long and narrow like a coffin, and you can't get out of it on your own." This astonishing work of autofiction is the first in Ditlevsen’s celebrated Copenhagen Trilogy.
On the Heath: Sunday 26th June, 11.30-1pm, setting off from Daunt Books Hampstead, 51 South End Road, NW3 2QB
On Zoom: Monday 27th June, 8-8.30pm
Buy Childhood, Youth, Dependency from Daunt Books here and receive 10% off using the code WBC at checkout, or just tell them you’re in the group if you’re buying it in the shop. N.B. Childhood is only available new as part of the complete Copenhagen trilogy, so please bear in mind we’re just discussing the first part of this book (though of course do feel free to read on).
Look out for some exciting news to come about our July walk, discussing The Gold-Rimmed Spectacles by Giorgio Bassani, and a reminder that you can watch webcasts about all our books on my YouTube channel:
Looking forward to seeing you on Friday / Sunday / Monday!