Andrey Yuryevich Kurkov (Ukrainian: Андрій Юрійович Курков; Russian: Андре́й Ю́рьевич Курко́в; born 23 April 1961 in Leningrad, USSR) is a Ukrainian novelist and an independent thinker who writes in Russian. He is the author of 19 novels, including the bestselling Death and the Penguin, 9 books for children, and about 20 documentary, fiction and TV movie scripts. His work is currently translated into 37 languages, including English, Japanese, French, German, Italian, Chinese, Swedish and Hebrew, and published in 65 countries. Kurkov, who has long been a respected commentator on Ukraine for the international media, notably in Europe and the United States, has written assorted articles for various publications worldwide. His books are full of black humour, post-Soviet reality and elements of surrealism.
Life and works
Kurkov's father was a test pilot and his mother was a doctor. He started writing at the age of seven when, after the death of two of his three pet hamsters, he wrote a poem about the loneliness of the remaining pet. He also produced poetry about Lenin, purportedly inspired by his Soviet education at the time.
Having graduated from the Kiev Foreign Languages Institute, and as a trained Japanese translator Kurkov was assigned military service assisting the KGB. However, he managed to get his papers changed to service with the military police. This offered him a greater degree of freedom during and after his service period. He was assigned a prison guard position in Odessa. It was during this period that Kurkov wrote all of his children's stories.
Kurkov's first novel was published two weeks before the fall of the Soviet Union, and in the ensuing social and political turmoil he made the first steps towards self-publishing and distribution. Borrowing money from friends to fund his work he managed to publish independently. While organising distribution around Ukraine, he would also sell copies by hand from stalls on busy streets.
Like many successful writers, Kurkov had difficulty getting his first publishing contract. He reportedly received 500 rejections before being accepted, in which time he had written almost eight complete novels.
Later in his career he won acclaim as one of the most successful Ukrainian authors in the post-Soviet era and has featured on European bestseller lists.
Kurkov lives in Kiev with his English wife, Elizabeth, and their three children.
- Novels translated to English
- For children
- The Adventures of Baby Vacuum Cleaner Gosha
- Why No One Pets The Hedgehog? illustrator: Tania Goryushina, ISBN 978-966-10-2377-1, 2012.
- "Radio Liberty interview with Andrey Kurkov". Retrieved 2015-10-01.
- Nicholas Wroe (30 July 2011). "A life in books: Andrey Kurkov". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 October 2015.
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