Andrey Kurkov

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Andrey Kurkov, Warsaw (Poland), May 19, 2007

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, Spanish, Japanese, French, German, Italian, Chinese, Swedish, Persian and Hebrew, and published in 65 countries.[1] 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[edit]

Kurkov's father was a test pilot and his mother was a doctor.[2] He started writing at the age of seven[3] 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.[2] 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.[4] 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.[2] 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. In 2018 he was elected as the President of PEN Ukraine.[5]

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
Book name ISBN[6] Publication year
Death and the Penguin ISBN 978-1-86046-945-9 2001
Penguin Lost ISBN 9780099461692 2005
A Matter of Death and Life ISBN 9780099461586 2005
The Penguin Novels ISBN 978-0099507062 2006
The Case of the General's Thumb ISBN 9780099455257 2009
The World of Mr Big Forehead
The President's Last Love ISBN 9780099485049 2009
The Good Angel of Death ISBN 9780099513490 2010
The Milkman in the Night ISBN 9781846553981 2011
The Gardener from Ochakov ISBN 9781846556159 2013
The Bickford Fuse ISBN 9780857055583 2016
Grey Bees ISBN 9780857059345 2020
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.



[7] [8] [9]

  1. ^ "Radio Liberty interview with Andrey Kurkov". Retrieved 2015-10-01.
  2. ^ a b c Nicholas Wroe (30 July 2011). "A life in books: Andrey Kurkov". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 October 2015.
  3. ^ "'A book is like a battery that passes on energy'".
  4. ^ "'A book is like a battery that passes on energy'".
  5. ^ "Andrii Kurkov – PEN Ukraine's New President". 17 December 2018. Retrieved 29 January 2019.
  6. ^ "About us". Retrieved 16 February 2019.
  7. ^ "Subscribe to read". Financial Times. Retrieved 16 February 2019. Cite uses generic title (help)
  8. ^ Taplin, Phoebe (13 May 2016). "The Bickford Fuse by Andrey Kurkov review – a Soviet Pilgrim's Progress". Retrieved 16 February 2019.
  9. ^ "Andrey Kurkov's The Bickford Fuse is a satirical masterpiece". The Spectator. 14 May 2016. Retrieved 16 February 2019.

External links[edit]