Yuriy Vynnychuk: Танґо смерті (Tango of Death)

The latest addition to my website is Yuriy Vynnychuk‘s Танґо смерті (Tango of Death). This is a very complex novel, set mainly in Lviv. It is told in alternating chapters. The first set tells the story of four boys/men whose fathers were killedby the Russian force of Grigory Kotovsky, a professional bandit and vicious thug. It is set in the late 1930s/early 1940s and deals with the invasion of Lviv by the Germans and then the Russians and the effect on the four. The second set takes place in the contemporary era where we follow the story of Yarosh who is studying the fictitious Arcanumians, an ancient people who believed that souls could transmigrate to another person if the dying person heard a piece of music – the Tango of Death – just before dying. This initially seems like a lost manuscript story but takes on greater significance in both parts of the story, with the key being Yos, a violinist, one of the four boys/men and the only one to survive to the second set. It is at times very funny (Vynnychuk takes delight in mocking the Russians) but also gives us a colourful portrait of multi-cultural Lviv), at times serious (the horrors of war) and at times mock-serious.

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