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Depeche Mode by Serhiy Zhadan
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Depeche Mode (2004)

by Serhiy Zhadan, Serhij Żadan

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Depeche Mode is an interesting and disturbing novel about life in the Ukraine soon after the Soviet era ended. The story involves characters who attempt to get through their days looking for some modicum of structure and meaning. Of course, there is an existential void during the state transition so crackpot preachers draw large audiences of desperate citizens seeking quick answers to their confusion. The answers, however, are worse than the chaotic conditions of daily life. The younger adults use vodka as a way to numb their view of a pointless future. The alcohol has a horribly destructive effect on their bodies and souls. The illusion of Western values being superior to Soviet tenets is debunked by survivors having access to contemporary music on their radios. The music of the English band, Depeche Mode is played freely on Ukraine radio stations. Anthems of ache for the poor working bloke eking out a chaotic existence are the Depeche Mode (“fast news”) descriptions that fit the nihilism of the three main characters.

Under the influence, Dogg Pavlov, Vasia, and Zhadan confuse movement for action and realize they are ultimately strangers (ala Camus) who must accept their own life paths to a time when they look back in despair asking, “how did we end up here?” The prose of Zhadan is remarkably lyrical in shapr contrast with the hopelessness of the characters. ( )
  GarySeverance | Jul 3, 2013 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Serhiy Zhadanprimary authorall editionscalculated
Żadan, Serhijmain authorall editionsconfirmed
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In 1993, tragic turbulence takes over Ukraine in the post-communist spin-off. As if in somnambulism, Soviet war veterans and upstart businessmen listen to an American preacher of whose type there were plenty at the time in the post-Soviet territory. In Kharkiv, the young communist headquarters is now an advertising agency, and a youth radio station brings Western music, with Depeche Mode in the lead, into homes of ordinary people. In the middle of this craze three friends, an anti-Semitic Jew Dogg Pavlov, an unfortunate entrepreneur Vasia the Communist and the narrator Zhadan, nineteen years of age and unemployed, seek to find their old pal Sasha Carburetor to tell him that his step-father shot himself dead. Characters confront elements of their reality, and, tainted with traumatic survival fever, embark on a sad, dramatic and a bit grotesque adventure.… (more)

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