STARRED REVIEW
August 2016

A whip-smart parody starring Putin

By Michael Honig
When the Soviet Union collapsed, some triumphalists in the West expected something unlikely. They expected Russia to play nice. It hasn’t turned out that way, and they blame Vladimir Putin. But imagine Russia’s surly and enigmatic leader once he has fallen from power. Imagine him with his faculties less than intact. This is the premise of The Senility of Vladimir P., the ingenious second novel from former surgeon Michael Honig.
Share this Article:

When the Soviet Union collapsed, some triumphalists in the West expected something unlikely. They expected Russia to play nice. It hasn’t turned out that way, and they blame Vladimir Putin. But imagine Russia’s surly and enigmatic leader once he has fallen from power. Imagine him with his faculties less than intact. This is the premise of The Senility of Vladimir P., the ingenious second novel from former surgeon Michael Honig. 

The five-term president, two-term prime minister and de facto czar suffers from hallucinations. An imagined Chechen torments him, so he treats the mirage to his well-known judo skills. In more lucid moments, he raves about his own cunning and watches TV footage of his exploits. Putin’s long-suffering, long-term nurse, Sheremetev, considers himself the last incorruptible Russian. Then his nephew Pasha goes to jail, and Sheremetev takes to pawning Putin’s vast collection of luxury watches to set Pasha free. 

Marx said history repeats itself, first as tragedy and then as farce. Honig’s novel is the farce to Russia’s genuine tragedy. The dacha where Putin convalesces comes to symbolize post-Soviet Russia as a whole, and the novel betrays a serious anguish at what has befallen the country. It delights in showing its architect as a destructive megalomaniac. Today, Putin likes to appear shirtless to show his virility. Honig suggests instead that the emperor wears no clothes.

 

This article was originally published in the August 2016 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

Trending Reviews

Get the Book

The Senility of Vladimir P.

The Senility of Vladimir P.

By Michael Honig
Pegasus
ISBN 9781681771564

Sign Up

Stay on top of new releases: Sign up for our enewsletters to receive reading recommendations in your favorite genres.

Sign Up

Sign up to receive reading recommendations in your favorite genres!