Synopsis (from Amazon)
Moscow, 2013. Bunin, the Ukrainian President, has joined other heads of state in an open air swimming pool to drink vodka and celebrate with Putin. During his rise to power Bunin has juggled with formidable and eccentric political and personal challenges. His troubles with his family and his women combine with his difficulties with corrupt businessmen and demanding international allies, but it is his recent heart transplant that worries him most. Since the operation he has started to develop freckles, and his heart donor’s mysterious widow seems to have moved in with him…
Spanning forty years, The President’s Last Love is a hilarious satire on love, lies and life before and after the Iron Curtain.
Andrey Kurkov is one of those writers I keep forgetting about and then re-discovering. I first encountered him work with Death And The Penguin
several years ago but since reading that and its sequel (Penguin Lost) I forgot about him until I read about him in The Complete Polysylabbic Spree, which led me to reading A Matter of Death and Life. After reading that I vowed not to forget him, but it wasn’t until I saw some of his books on display in Waterstones that I remembered my vow. I immediately bought this book and added a few more to my wishlist.
I really do not know why I keep forgetting Kurkov, I always enjoy his books. They tend to be easy to read but there is a certain strangeness to them that makes you feel like you have something to puzzle out.
I would say I prefer the Penguin books over this one, just because of the character of the penguin himself, and the main character’s relationship with him (which is probably reflected in the fact that I remember the penguin’s name, but not that of his owner). I did find I had a little confusion when switching between chapters (each of which were focused on one of 3 periods in the president’s (Bunin’s) life) and working out where I was in relation to other chapters, especially as each individual story got more complex. I also had a little trouble distinguishing the women in his life from one another, especially when they overlapped into each others time frames.
You could probably make three novellas from this book as it was like three stories in one but I kind of liked reading them alongside each other and it was clever how sometimes something from one time frame would explain something in another. However I did want some of the stories to carry on as I was interested to see how Bunin got to where he was in the last timeline.
Certainly a good read, and fairly easy, but if you have never encountered Kurkov before I would recommend Death and the Penguin as a better starting point.
On an aside I love the old style cover art for these books, all my over Kurkov books are the old style but now they seem to have all changed to the new style. Ah well what will be will be, cover art doesn’t make the book after all.