Envy

by Yuri Olesha

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Envy

Yuri Olesha’s Envy, a classic of early Soviet fiction, is everything Shadow of the Wind is not—brutish, nasty, short and hilarious. The novel’s malcontent narrator passes out at a bar and wakes up in the home of an insufferably virtuous Communist Party apparatchik. The Party man’s grandiosity, small-mindedness and sunny confidence—so like bureaucrats (and Student Council presidents) throughout history—provides Olesha with fodder for a priceless satire on post-revolutionary Russia. Olesha’s genius is to push his narrator beyond satire into a darker, subtler meditation on the heart’s perversity.

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