Chekago

Natalya Lowndes, Author
Natalya Lowndes, Author Dutton Books $19.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-525-24686-2
Reviewed on: 09/01/1988
Release date: 09/01/1988
Although the author has adopted a pseudonym to shield friends in the U.S.S.R., there is nothing scandalous or shocking about this domestic comedy set in contemporary Moscow. The irresistibly handsome, slow-on-the-uptake protagonist, Sasha Biryusov, shares a communal flat with five others, who are supposed to represent a cross-section of Muscovite society: there's Olga Melentyeva, a former aristocrat and intellectual, the Kuznetsovshe's a Jewish university teacherand their young daughter, and Lizaveta Kiprenskaya, a shrewish old-age pensioner. Olga introduces Sasha to a cultivated crowd, including a visiting American postgraduate student, Bobby Weston. Weston is eager to bed the dustman, but her weird sexual tastes send him running. Soon after she leaves, the flat comes under intense scrutiny by the KGB. Two plain-clothes policeman, known as Rocky and Bogat, take up residence in the flat, where they steal from their new flatmates and force them to listen to poetry recitations. To top it off, the widow with whom Sasha has been corresponding decides to move in as well. Sasha, who has muddled his flatmates into this mess, muddles them out of their predicament. Lowndes deftly depicts the large cast of characters who wander in and out of this lighthearted romp through the lives of these Muscovites. A bestseller in England, this is an entertaining read. (September)
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