By Dmitry Lipskerov
Translated by Reilly Costigan-Humes and Isaac Wheeler
In this satirical, phantasmagorical novel by a star of contemporary Russian literature, Lipskerov writes about an aging man trying to find his place in modern society despite significant damage to his ego… and his “tool.”
Publication Date: January 12, 2021
Dmitry Lipskerov, an award-winning Russian writer compared throughout his career to Mikhail Bulgakov and Gabriel Garcia Marquez, focuses his unbridled imagination on the story of wealthy, satisfied Mr. Iratov, whose virile world is flipped upside-down. Taking a page from Gogol’s satirical story “The Nose,” wherein the protagonist loses his aforementioned facial feature, Lipskerov's novel transposes such a loss onto a more delicate organ. The protagonist awakens one morning bereft of his tool; and the tool, which re-appears, sentient and in a small village far away, without his man. Thus begins a novel both funny and absurd, in which characters come together across disparate social strata and with differing goals to weave the fate of a universe familiar yet fantastical, a perfect satire of the madness of Russian society today. The Tool and the Butterflies, Lipskerov's eagerly anticipated English language debut, is not just a darkly comedic exploration of post-Soviet attitudes towards gender and sexuality, but also a historically and socially grounded narrative rich in naturalistic dialogue and everyday detail, and an engaging story of family and what matters most in life, in the grandest tradition of Russian literature.
"Lipskerov paints a portrait of a country in disarray but does it in humorous way. It is this continuous view of a country that seems to be falling apart, only exacerbated by the genitalia loss, as well as the very clever and complex plot, that make this such an enjoyable read." ––The Modern Novel
"Magic, humor, suspense, these are the ingredients of this demonic bouillabaisse that Dmitri Lipskerov has concocted according to the best recipes of magical realism." —Le Courrier de Russie
"An enthralling mix of post-Soviet reality, magical realism and surrealism makes reading this novel an experience like meandering through the Minotaur’s labyrinth, but instead of one monster, there are many, lurking around every corner. The elusive characters in this novel find themselves in totally absurd situations that never quite fall perfectly into context but also contribute to the development of the broader storyline." ––sub-cult.ru
"Dmitry Lipskerov’s novel is rich with literary allusions, furnished with a bold plot, topical and philosophical in equal measure – in a word, the novel has everything necessary to become a smart bestseller. Lipskerov is a writer with a rampant imagination. His protagonist gets into a sticky and totally Gogolesque, or rather, Kafkaesque situation." ––delfi.lv
"The author succeeds in drawing readers into a whirlpool of modernized mishaps straight out of Hoffmann and Gogol. Doppelgangers are a recurring theme. There is an angelic maiden. There is a good portion of moralité. And last but not least there are the cutlets in an elite gourmet deli that have sat out just a little too long, an homage to Bulgakov." ––Kultura
"Lipskerov is one of those writers who are artists rather than thinkers. His novels are often cited and retold but they cannot be fully comprehended. Just like one cannot explain the abstract expressionism of Pollok or Petrov-Vodkin’s still lives. A pure joy for readers." ––readrate.com
"The author’s snappy language lets the reader’s imagination run wild. Not for nothing was this novel called the most shocking of the year." ––neva-events.ru
"A soap opera with a Gogolesque beginning and a Biblical finale." ––gorky.media
Dmitry Lipskerov is a playwright and author whose novels have been met with international success due to their vivid, intense portrayal of Russia through both fabulism and realism. He was the winner of the Moscow Komsomol Prize and French prize Imaginales 2019, and was shortlisted for the Russian Booker Award. He co-founded two Russian literary prizes: the Debut prize for works of fiction by young Russian writers and the Neformat prize. The Tool and the Butterflies is the first novel of his to be translated into English.