The Suitcase

I’m reading Sergei Dovlatov’s “The Suitcase”. Recommended in the Toronto Star as an insightful look at life during communism in the Soviet Union.

These are short stories that reveal the absurdity of communism rule. Told with humour and tenderness. How a portrait of Dostoevsky was mistaken for one of Solzhenitsyn (makes sense — both look so serious and full of religious fervor). How Dovlatov ended up 240 pairs of Finnish, pea-green socks. How to be a non-Jewish Jew. A madeleine to recapture memories of the old country.

An excerpt, from a story about an acquaintance of Dovlatov, who is making a short film:

“Here’s the plot: a mysterious stranger appears in Leningrad. We see right off that he’s Tsar Peter the Great, the man who founded this city two hundred and sixty years ago. Now the great sovereign finds himself smack in the middle of vulgar Soviet reality. A policeman threatens to run him in. Two winos ask him to chip in for a bottle. Whores take him for a rich foreigner. KGB agents think he is a spy, and so on.”


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