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Omon Ra Paperback – February 17, 1998


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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Named by his father after the Soviet OMON, the Interior Ministry riot police, Omon, a Soviet astronaut, renames himself Ra after the Egyptian sun god. As he approaches his final crisis, Omon reflects on the lies he's told and on the one that has just been revealed to him--that the Soviet space program (that he's based his entire life upon) is entirely other than what it purports to be. As Omon tries to reconcile the events of his life, he remembers what a Colonel of the KGB once told him, " ... the more consciously you perform your feat of heroism, the greater will be the degree of truth." The ensuing truths he uncovers are astonishing. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

A rising star in the Russian literary firmament (see The Yellow Arrow, below), Pelevin, winner of the 1993 Russian Booker Prize for short stories, has written a parody of life under Communism refracted through the prism of the Soviet space program. This clever parable about a young cosmonaut ordered to make the ultimate sacrifice?killing himself after secretly piloting a supposedly unmanned lunar expedition?is sprinkled with throwaway gags, absurdist humor and wickedly ironic touches, as well as with the eerie beauty of space exploration. Obsessed with space travel since early childhood, Omon Krivomazov identifies with Ra, the ancient Egyptian falcon-headed sun god, a fixation that reflects his desire to escape the gray conformity of Soviet life and his yearning for a soul. Omon learns that more than 100 of his fellow cosmonauts have already been sacrificed as guinea pigs after taking part in supposedly automated, manless launches. Pelevin portrays the Russian space program as a vast propaganda enterprise, a distraction to paper over the tawdriness and fear of everyday life. Many allusions will be lost on American readers. And, in light of the truth-is-stranger-than-fiction state of contemporary Russian society, some of the Soviet-era satire seems oddly tame. Nevertheless, as captured in Bromfield's superb translation, Pelevin is blessed with a distinctive mix of eloquence and nervous energy, inventive storytelling and subversive wit.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 154 pages
  • Publisher: New Directions (February 17, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0811213641
  • ISBN-13: 978-0811213646
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #191,167 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Pelevin is a deeply mystical writer.
Ianis76
Take for example the level of degeneration and evilness of the USSR nomenklatura vs. degeneration of the US political elite.
kievite
This book made me think about the best sci-fi books I've ever read.
Stuart B. Baum

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

52 of 57 people found the following review helpful By Ianis76 on April 26, 2004
Format: Paperback
Most of the reviews available on this page suggest that Omon Ra is a new "1984", i.e., a (morbid) satire of the Soviet State. I would like to disagree with this interpretation. Pelevin is a deeply mystical writer. A mystical writer (especially a Russian mystical writer) would not waste his time criticizing some long-forgotten political regime. Reading Omon Ra as a sad satire of the USSR is like saying that Kafka's Metamorphosis is about the situation in pre-war Austrian Empire or that Borges' The Book of Sand is about the condition of intellectuals in Argentina. People who see only the (pseudo) satirical dimension in Omon Ra hugely underestimate Pelevin.
In my opinion, Omon Ra could have taken place in any society and in any era (whence the surreal "reincarnation test" in the middle of the book). It is (as any good mystical novel) a travel of a soul through layers of emptiness. This travel seemingly ends on the dark side of the Moon, in desolation and despair. But wait until you read the last pages before you conclude that suicide is the only solution in the murky world of Russian mysticism. And please, compare Pelevin to Gogol or Kafka rather than to Orwell.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Alec Dinwoodie on April 17, 2001
Format: Paperback
I first became aware of Pelevin when this novel was excerpted in the cosmopolitan literary magazine Grand Street, and I was instantly hooked by his signature tone. He combines withering post-Soviet cynicism with humor worthy of Cervantes or Twain and a "magical realist" mysticism that --- almost uniquely --- is never gratuitous (as with the Serbian writer Milorad Pavic) or smug.
Where Kakfa drapes the sinister in intellectual pomp and circumstance, Pelevin unpredictably shocks you again and again, even as his characters clown and bicker for your pleasure in the shadow of the paranoid Soviet state -- imagine Gabriel Garcia Marquez as a smirking nihilist. But despite the nihilism, an inexplicable redemption seems possible in Pelevin's work; his characters often escape doom at the end and wander off stunned into a new world without any idea of where they're going to go. I'll stop short of saying that it's a deep expression of the situation in contemporary Russia -- but I will say that I find it immensely appealing.
So many American artists loudly congratulate themselves on "irony" that consists mostly of kitschy 70s clothing and tattoos; so many Europeans take pride in convoluted, academic "sophistication" that leads nowhere. Victor Pelevin is an antidote to the posing, a first-rank world author whose style arises from substance; a nonaligned political writer who is literary first, and who offers no reassurances where none really exist; and, above all, an individual whose agenda seems to be his own talent.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 13, 1997
Format: Hardcover
Victor Pelevin is the most interesting writer in modern Russia. New russian generation, like Generation X in the USA, is strongly different from the previous one. Victor Pelevin is the favorite writer of this generation, which live in shattered world. Their world is very strange for a foreigner. It is a combination of high-tech cyber culture, old communist remains, indian shaman culture, Chineese phylosophy and American pragmatism.
Translator did great job, because the language of Pelevin is quite different from usual one. Sometimes, however, translator was not able to reproduce original spirit, because, I guess, he tried to be politically correct(PC). His translation lacks that combination of cynicism and high spirituality, which is so important in Pelevin's book.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A. Student on October 15, 2004
Format: Paperback
This is an amazing book. It's really funny - provided that (like me) you have someone who knows the inside jokes to explain them to you. Otherwise, a lot of the things that happen really make no sense, and you're left guessing as to why things happen. There are a lot of references to Soviet history that totally flew over my head the first time I read it. (The second time, I had more information). It's really sad that there isn't an index because, when given more of a context, it's a fantastic read. (On the other hand, maybe the lack of context works better with a postmodernist work - it all depends on your perspective!)
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Russell Pittman on February 6, 1999
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
What a pleasure it is to discover Victor Pelevin. His imagination and creativity seem to have no bounds, and he writes very, very well. Oman Ra is the story of a boy who grows up always wanting to fly and, as the saying goes, should have been more careful what he wished for: he and a friend are accepted as cosmonauts in what turns out to be the outlandish, buffoonish, hilarious, nightmarish world of the Soviet space program. The training program is shocking (to both Omon and the reader), and Omon's trip to the moon, and its aftermath, are unforgettable. Everything about this short, amazing book is the equal of the best stories in the author's A Werewolf Problem in Central Russia. Pelevin is a young writer whose forthcoming books are to be eagerly anticipated.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 16, 1999
Format: Paperback
get your hands on anything this guy wrote. hope the translation does justice - i read it in russian. pay, beg, threaten, do whatever it takes for an english translation of "Generation P", his latest. modern marketing, apocalypse, virtual reality and babylonian mysticism, with a heavy dose of hallucinogenics mixed in. if you thought "omon" was good...
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