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8 Novels by Victor Pelevin to Add to Your Reading Lists

PS is a voracious reader and a bibliophile. She has her own library with a collection of thousands of books of different genres.

Victor Pelevin

Victor Pelevin

The past is the locomotive that pulls the future. It happens that this past is someone else's. You go back and see only what has already disappeared.

— Victor Pelevin

Victor Olegovich Pelevin is a Russian writer and a winner of various prestigious awards such as the Russian Little Booker Prize and the Russian National Bestseller.

Amazing Facts about Victor Pelevin

  • He is an electromechanical engineer and has worked at the Russian Air Force.
  • He is not at all a drug addict though he experimented, in his youth, with a mind-expanding substance.
  • He is considered to be among the 1,000 most significant people of the contemporary culture, according to a French magazine.
  • He is also considered the most influential intellectual in Russia, according to a survey.
  • He has adhered to Buddhism.
  • He rarely makes any public appearances, often critics doubt his existence and reckon there’s a group of writers who use this as a code name, which is clearly not true.
  • He is greatly influenced by Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita.

Most of his work is based on esoteric philosophies highly relevant to the pop culture. The theme in his books is generally multi-layered postmodernism and falls into the science fiction genre.

Famous Novels

Generation P's film adaptation

Generation P's film adaptation

1. Generation P

  • Generation P is about a disillusioned poet named Babylen Tatarsky, who later become an advertising copywriter with the help of a former classmate.
  • The novel is about drug use, consumerism, and Mesopotamian mythology set in post-Soviet Russia. The letter ‘P’ in the title stands for ‘Pizdets’, which roughly translates to ‘screwed’.
  • As Tatarsky gains success as a copywriter, he begins his quest to find the real meaning of culture which is deeply indulged in material possessions and self-obsession.
  • The most prominent image is of a goddess named Ishtar, as in reference to Mesopotamian mythology. It is her, under whom the corporate world runs especially the advertising sector.
Omon Ra's theatrical adaptation

Omon Ra's theatrical adaptation

2. Omon Ra

  • The name of the protagonist, Omon, is named after OMON, which was a Russian and Soviet police force, spoken as “Amon”.
  • The novel explores the insane truth behind the Soviet’s obsession for ‘heroic achievements’, especially in the fields of science, space exploration, and military.
  • It was a huge success and received two literary awards Bronze Small and Interpresson.
  • The main character, Oman, is born in Moscow and in his teenage years, realizes that he needs to free himself of the Earth’s gravity to escape from the Soviet demands. He, later, enrolls in a military academy and things are not, surely, the way as they seem to be in the academy.
Chapayev and Void's film adaptation - Buddha's Little Finger

Chapayev and Void's film adaptation - Buddha's Little Finger

3. Chapayev and Void

  • The theme of the novel is the post-October revolution and modern Russia.
  • The main character is a poet named Pyotr Pustota who lives in Moscow under the false identity of Soviet political commissioner along with an army commander named Vasily Chapayev.
  • Pustota spends most of the time taking drugs and drinking samogon. He also explores the possible meaning of life. As the story progresses, it is quite confusing and challenging to know his true identity.
  • The story is largely based on a real-life person named Pyotr Semenovich Isayev, who is Chapayev’s real-life assistant. Mostly, Chapayev is described explaining the various worlds aspects of life to Pustota.
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Art of Empire V's film adaptation

Art of Empire V's film adaptation

4. Empire V

  • Empire V is about a Roman human-turned-vampire named Alexandrovich Shtorkin, who changes after meeting another vampire named Brahma and is renamed as Rama.
  • Being a vampire, he needs to undergo training in vampiric sciences to control his hunger and preserve humanity. Vampires have a power of reading others’ minds by licking blood through their tongue.
  • They live in their own world and do no interference in human’ lives. Also, they can forge relationships with other vampires only.
  • The story revolves around Rama’s human thoughts, his love affair with a vampire and an ultimate help from an older vampire.


5. S.N.U.F.F.

  • S.N.U.F.F. is a dystopian science fiction set in the post-apocalyptic world. Most of the people live poorly and in a technologically backward area named 'Urkaina'.
  • The title of the novel is an acronym for Special Newsreel Universal Feature Film. It is a footage of military attacks on the inhabitants, which is filmed solely for entertainment purposes.
  • The narrator is a pilot named Damilola Karpov. His job is to run a remote-controlled drone to cover wars and brutal situations of people. The drone is endowed with a camera, guns, and bombs.
  • The people in the military campaign, called Big Byz, don’t have the pleasure of enjoying life to the fullest. They make use of robotic women to fulfill sexual desires.
4 by Pelevin

4 by Pelevin

6. 4 by Pelevin

  • 4 by Pelevin is a collection of four short stories including “Vera Pavlovna’s Ninth Dream”, “Hermit and Six Toes”, “Tai Shou Chuan USSR”, and “The Life and Adventures of Shed Number X||”.
  • Quite similar to Nikolai Gogol’s charismatic novels, the stories largely talk about grotesque, surreal and phantasmagorical situations.
  • Pelevin has fantastically described the dark side of New Russia along with an appealing dark comedy. He is a true genius.
  • In of the stories, a woman discovers an entranceway in a public toilet, which is a path to an alternate reality. In another, a man is walking with a companion at night, which is most probably his own shadow.
IPhuck 10

IPhuck 10

7. IPhuck 10

  • Pelevin has been awarded the Andrei Bely Prize for this novel.
  • The setting is the end of the 21st century, where Europe is overpowered by Islamists and Eastern superpower, and the USA is succeeded by a new Confederation.
  • People don’t do sex anymore due to the outrage of zika virus and there’s no possible ethical cure for the dangerous disease. People are more into virtual sex now.
  • The protagonist is an art historian named Marukh Cho, Mara in short. He is enticed by a 17-year-old modification and uses it for own purposes. He has also developed an AI (Artificial Intelligence) system that generates artwork and brings in a huge amount of money for Mara. But there’s something fake in here that changes his destiny later in the story.
The Blue Lantern

The Blue Lantern

8. The Blue Lantern

  • The Blue Lantern is one of the best examples of world-class novels in the fiction genre.
  • It is a collection of short stories that are highly relatable to the real-life and based on individualism. Also, focussing on different human moods with absurd wit and satire.
  • The stories are about sorrowful animals, sex-change prostitutes, and a group of young boys who have high regards for death.
  • The stories magnificently cover the side world that we take for granted and most of the things happening there go unnoticed. The words are limited yet their explanation of real things is infinite and attention-grabbing.

Victor Pelevin is not a public person. His novels are enough to speak about him.

Among other Russian writers, he is one of the living legends of the country who has impressively contributed to the world literature.

© 2019 Prachi Sharma

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