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The Suitcase

A Novel

List Price: $15.95

April 1, 2011 | Paperback | 5.6 x 8, 160 Pages | ISBN 9781582437330
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"Dovlatov's writing is simple but witty, with a hint of nostalgia... His tales open a small window on to daily life in the former Soviet Union." —The Observer

Sergei Dovlatov’s subtle, dark-edged humor and wry observations are in full force in The Suitcase as he examines eight objects—the items he brought with him in his luggage upon his emigration from the U.S.S.R. These seemingly undistinguished possessions, stuffed into a worn-out suitcase, take on a riotously funny life of their own as Dovlatov inventories the circumstances under which he acquired them, occasioning a brilliant series of interconnected tales: A poplin shirt evokes the bittersweet story of a courtship and marriage, while a pair of boots (of the kind only the nomenklatura can afford) calls up the hilarious conclusion to an official banquet. Some driving gloves—remnants of Dovlatov’s short-lived acting career—share space with neon-green crepe socks, reminders of a failed black-market scam. And in curious juxtaposition, the belt from a prison guard’s uniform lies next to a stained jacket that once belonged to Fernand Léger.

Imbued with a comic nostalgia overlaid with Dovlatov’s characteristically dry wit, The Suitcase is an intensely human, delightfully ironic novel from “the finest Soviet satirist to appear in English since Vladimir Voinovich,” according to the Washington Post.

SERGER DOVLATOV was born in Ufa, Bashkiria (U.S.S.R.), in 1941. He dropped out of the University of Leningrad after two years and was drafted into the army, serving as a guard in high-security prison camps. In 1965 he began to work as a journalist, first in Leningrad, then in Tellinn, Estonia. After a period of intense harassment by the authorities, he emigrated to the United States in 1978. He lived in New York until his death in 1990.


“Dovlatov’s writing is simple but witty, with a hint of nostalgia… His tales open a small window on to daily life in the former Soviet Union.” —The Observer

“Rummaging through its contents provided the inspiration for this engaging collection of stories in which Dovlatov acts as narrator. All are delivered with an exquisite sense of timing, and ironic humor counterpoints the seriousness of their united theme: the woeful failing of Soviet socialism… This slim volume of interconnected tales, called a novel by the publisher, is a companion to Dovlatov’s similarly semi-autobiographical The Compromise and Ours.” —Publishers Weekly

“[The Suitcase] is very entertaining… and good for laughs.” —Library Journal


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