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Homo Zapiens

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The collapse of the Soviet Union has opened up a huge consumer market, but how do you sell things to a generation that grew up with just one type of cola? When Tatarsky, a frustrated poet, takes a job as an advertising copywriter, he finds he has a talent for putting distinctively Russian twists on Western-style ads. But his success leads him into a surreal world of spin doctors, gangsters, drug trips, and the spirit of Che Guevera, who, by way of a Ouija board, communicates theories of consumer theology. A bestseller in Russia, Homo Zapiens displays the biting absurdist satire that has gained Victor Pelevin superstar status among today's Russian youth, disapproval from the conservative Moscow literary world, and critical acclaim worldwide.

256 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1999

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About the author

Victor Pelevin

164 books1,747 followers
Victor Olegovich Pelevin is a Russian fiction writer. His books usually carry the outward conventions of the science fiction genre, but are used to construct involved, multi-layered postmodernist texts, fusing together elements of pop culture and esoteric philosophies. Some critics relate his prose to the New Sincerity and New Realism literary movements.

RU: Виктор Пелевин

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 284 reviews
Profile Image for Glenn Russell.
1,356 reviews11.8k followers
May 15, 2022

"The author's opinions do not necessarily coincide with his point of view." So writes Victor Pelevin as part of his "author's disclaimer" to this bestselling novel marketed under three different titles in English: Homo Zapiens, Babylon and Generation P

"Generation 'P' had no choice in the matter and children of the Soviet seventies chose Pepsi in precisely the same way as their parents chose Brezhnev." When asked by an interviewer what the "P" means, Victor indicated the references are multiple but the main meaning is a very rude, obscene word. With this in mind, I think we can confidently translate the "P" as "Pissed On" or "Pooped On" as in an entire generation of Russians covered in layers of Soviet excrement and tossed out of the fortress of communist ideology and into a cultural sub-zero post-Soviet Siberian tundra to fend for themselves. Good luck, comrades! Woops - slip of the tongue. Correct that to: Good luck, people! The novel's main character, one Babylen Tatarsky, could never understand why "it was worth exchanging an evil empire for an evil banana republic that imported its bananas from Finland."

Poor Tatarsky. His country, the USSR, "ejaculated the first sputnik - that four-tailed spermatozoon of the future that never began - into the dark void of cosmic space" when he was a youngster then during his early adult life went completely kaput, belly-up, becoming a mere former nation, a land left to mobsters, sharkers, brutes, thugs and multiple other varieties of no-goodniks.

Oh, former comrades, now that you are reduced to members of the general public aka the ruck aka the great unwashed, the question poses itself: In addition to being at the mercy of all those mobsters and no-goodnicks, according to Tatarsky (and indirectly author Victor Pelevin), where do you stand in the new Russia? Answer: Since all the Lenin statues were carted out of town, "his presence was merely replaced by a frightening murky greyness in which the Soviet soul simply continued rotting until it collapsed inward on itself."

Transition with a vengeance. It's bye bye USSR; hello home grown initiative + American consumerism = Brave New Russia. Thus bye bye Tatarsky the poet supported by state subsidies; hello Tatarsky the writer of slogans and script to make Western consumer goods and products maximally marketable to his fellow countryman.

Rather than expatiating on the plotnick, I'll shift to commenting on a number of my favorite lines and bits of this slam dunk Victor Pelevin best-seller. Here goes:

Tatarsky writes in his journal: "It might make sense to consider infiltrating into the consciousness of the consumer the character 'Nikola Spitov', an individual of the same type as Ronald McDonald, but profoundly national in spirit."

I suspect people in the US would get a chuckle if they saw that famous hamburger clown of the golden arches come on their TV screen with the name Nikola Spitov, a name more Americans would associate with a Soviet cosmonaut or Russian Olympic athlete then Ronald McDonald. Nikola Spitov - get serious, Tatarsky - that Ruski name doesn't even rhyme.

When experiencing his first high on those hallucinogenic magic mushrooms, in a fit of inspiration Tatarsky thinks of a potential advertising concept for these fly-agarics based on the "startling realization that the supreme form of self-realization for fly-agarics is an atomic explosion - something like the glowing non-material body that certain advanced mystics acquire."

Love the black humor here. American commercialism has so conquered the mind and heart of Tatarsky that when he is having his mind-blowing trip, the first thing he thinks of is how mystical realization can be transformed into mass marketing. This mixing of the esoteric enlightenment traditions such as Zen Buddhism with globalization via products and merchandising gives Victor's novel a special tang.

After snorting cocaine in a bathroom stall, Tatarsky takes out his notebook and begins writing, the first lines being: "In itself a wall on which a panoramic view of a non-existent world is drawn does not change. But for a great deal of money you can buy a view from the window with a painted sun, a sky-blue bay and a calm evening."

The new, young Russia of the 1980s meets the new, young financial swingers of Wall Street, USA - both sides fueled by a mountain of money and an even bigger mountain of cocaine.

In working up a marketing sceme for the Gap clothing stores in Moscow, Tatarsky comes up with "a poster showing Anton Chekhov, first in a striped suit, and then in a stripped jacket but with no trousers: the gap between his bare, skinny legs was emphasized in strong contrast, so that it resembled a Gothic hourglass."

You have to admire a former poet who knows when to call on a giant of his country's literature in order to sell a new clothing line.

"Tatarsky knew very well that in the area of radical youth culture nothing sells as well as well-packaged and politically correct rebellion against a world that is rules by political correctness and in which everything is packaged to be sold."

Tatarsky's reflection when spotting a black tee shirt with a portrait of Che Guevara and the inscription 'Rage Against the Machine' underneath. Victor's novel is so hip, he even finds a place for the great Che Guevara on both the physical and metaphysical level.

"In the same way as a viewer who does not wish to watch the advertisements switches between television channels, instantaneous and unpredictable technomodifications switch the actual viewer to and fro."

Thanks, Victor! Letting the next generation of men and women in your country know they have become little more than objects of manipulation in the hands of those in control of mass media and technology.

For those readers living both in Russia and outside Russia, one thing is certain - Victor Pelevin's novel rocks the house.

Victor Pelevin, born 1962
Profile Image for BlackOxford.
1,081 reviews68.1k followers
January 25, 2020
The Only Drug You’ll Ever Need

What better therapy could there be for the protagonist, Tatarsky, to cope with the final trauma of the dissolution of the Soviet Union than the invention of advertising slogans? On the other hand, magic mushrooms might achieve the same end, namely, the removal of the “relict [sic] of the Soviet era, the slave mentality he still hadn’t completely squeezed out of himself.” This was necessary in order to play the Game With No Name that has taken over Russia.

The game, of course, is the game of language. As in the biblical legend of the ancient tower, language is changing in incomprehensible ways. Those who are in the vanguard of the changes are the ones most confused. They create the new words, which create commercial value. How do they do that? Capitalism, just like Communism, is built on words; just different words. The words necessary in post-Soviet Russia have to touch the Slav mind. Explosive words. Sexy words. Noble words of the Motherland and her deep culture of words. Words that fit with despair but promise greatness and plentitude.

And it works. Fizzy drinks, cigarettes, washing powder are the things words attach to. These things become the words, and vice versa. This is the magic by which transformation out of the Soviet mentality comes about. The magic affected absolutely everything: “... people weren’t sniffing cocaine, they were sniffing money, and the rolled-up hundred-dollar bill required by the unwritten order of ritual was actually more important than the powder itself.” Symbols, words, that is to say, language was being consumed everywhere as if it had real substance. No wonder the popular resurgence in God who also became real through the same process!

There is a curious subtlety in this process: “First you try to understand what people will like, and then you hand it to them in the form of a lie. But what people want is for you to hand them the same thing in the form of the truth.” Lie? Truth? Both come in the same package. Haven’t you noticed? Same brand. Same factory. Same ingredients. All sourced from the same raw material: that infinitely deep well of language. It never seems to go dry. The more that’s extracted, the deeper it gets. And it’s free.

Language is a drug. No, THE drug. Soviet language cut the drug with all sorts of repetitive, inert crap. The same words over and over. Barely enough to get a buzz on. Vodka was a welcome refuge. Capitalist language is the real thing, crack cocaine with a Fentanyl chaser. You can only appreciate it if you’ve been weaned on the fifth-grade junk of socialism. Capitalism gives you the words to fly, to soar... to eat a really satisfying meal. Sure it takes some getting used to the stuff but once you’re on it, you hardly notice the hangover. Just up the dose and the ride continues. The apparatchiks didn’t want anyone to know about the well. Now they pump out as much of it as they can.

Having consumed the abundant new words of Capitalism, we digest them and they become part of us, indistinguishable from us. They are us. We then excrete the waste, upon which the magic mushrooms grow. “As far as Tatarsky was able to judge from the murky depths of his own Soviet mentality, the project was an absolutely textbook example of the American entrepreneurial approach.” The system is self-sustaining - we eat each other’s shit. How’s that for a fecund metaphor?
Profile Image for Jasmine.
668 reviews46 followers
August 29, 2010
Five stars for a book that I resent? Certainly why not?

From the second that I started to read the book I couldn't quite decide if I liked it or hated it. The book comes off a bit like an elitist ass hole. One of those guys who knows he is smarter than you and decides that instead of acting like a civilized person he is going to prove it to you by, well telling you things that don't make any sense and then acting like they do. and if that is not enough he will include diatribes against things that as far as you were aware of didn't exist in the book. A weird obsession with pens and a preponderance of references to buddhism that don't actually explain that they are references to buddhism.

and why will you then give this book five stars? because somehow it all fits together. The long diatribe against tv actually changes your perception of the book thus far and colors your reading of further passages. Comments about che guevera's buddhism change your understanding of what might be buddhism, but comments about he buddhist method of television watching then change your perception of whether pelevin even understands buddhism, or if he wants to?

The mundane seems repetitive but the deep seems substantial and ever changing.

somehow the book seems complete without being reasonable and active while forcing a slowdown.

Everything feels deliberate. The first 10 chapters feel convoluted and hard to read but slip into a long stretch of easy flowing chapters which again devolve into convoluted muck. materialism becomes buddhism becomes "Ideal"ism. There is something about the evolution of the novel as form that evolves the novel as content. In short something feels right, perhaps because something feels just a little wrong.

I don't actually know if I like this book. I mean I resent it but I don't know. I shall extrapolate and possibly decide and review later...
Profile Image for Ieva.
1,017 reviews77 followers
March 6, 2020
Grāmatu kluba krievu mēnesī nolēmu aizpildīt robu savā mūžizglītība ar kādu "kulta rakstnieka" darbu. Vispār kārtējo rezi pārliecinājos, ka savu gaumi zinu gana labi, un, ja domāju, ka tā laikam nebūs grāmata man, parasti tā arī ir. Tā ka, lūdzu atslābstiet neskaitāmie grāmtas fani, es zvaigznes lieku par SAVU lasīšanas pieredzi, nevis autora rakstītprasmi. Nu un man nepatīk šizofrēnija un narkotiku murgi. Godprātīgi izlasīju, bet tā arī nespratu to gala jēgu. Simt punkti, ka vaina ir manī, ne grāmatā, bet tas nemaina, ka man nepatīk.
Profile Image for Marianna Neal.
469 reviews2,156 followers
June 17, 2019
4.5 out of 5 stars

I first attempted reading this book when I was 17, and I didn't get far—I was quickly appalled by what I managed to read, closed the book, and didn't think I would ever read Victor Pelevin again. Well... I guess the years have made me a lot more cynical because this time around I not only finished the book, but also found it to be fascinating, clever, satirical, quotable, philosophical, and pretty damn funny. But also rather depressing, and still a bit appalling. I guess my cynicism still has a bit of room to grow.

I'm taking half a star off because there were a few parts that were unnecessarily drawn out, but really, I can't believe how much I ended up loving this whole thing.

If you're wondering what Generation "П"/ Homo Zapiens / Babylon (depending on the edition you read) is even about—well, it's generally about advertising in post-Soviet Russia. And manipulation. And human values. And addiction. And consumerism. And politics. And mythology. And... I just think you should read it because I'm too tired to write a long review at the moment that this book undeniably deserves.
Profile Image for Andrew.
1,989 reviews699 followers
March 2, 2013
I'd like to think that I have a bit of a Russian soul. I stare down long, snowy views pinned down by the sheer weight of being, lose myself in massive novels, like to think that I fight for the proletariat, and attribute certain cleansing abilities to vodka. However, this is a Russia that is long since dead. The modern Russia is populated by thugs in tracksuits and all manner of slimy manipulators of post-Soviet malaise. This is the Russia Pelevin writes about.

"Once upon a time in Russia there really was a carefree, youthful generation that smiled in joy at the summer, the sea and the sun, and chose Pepsi."


This is a world of oral-anal transmissions predicted by Che Guevara through a ouija board, nationalist ad campaigns for Western products, Chechen conspirators, visions of fantastic animals brought on by heavy consumption of Siberian shaman mushrooms, and whole civilizations built on credit. Much like when I read David Foster Wallace, I get a vision of postmodern humanity so bleak and so funny and so, at its core, aching to simply be human that I have to put the book down and sigh a bit from time to time.
Profile Image for Dimitri Shiukashvili.
73 reviews5 followers
November 13, 2022
პირველ რიგში: Welcome To The Route 666.

სანამ ჩვენთან სისხლიანი და ბნელი 90-იანები მიმდინარეობდა, პარალელურად რუსეთი დანგრეული კომუნიზმიდან აღმოცენებასა და შეგუებას კაპიტალისტური იდეების დემონსტრირებით ცდილობდა. ტექსტში ვხვდებით: "ძველი სიტყვა "დემოკრატია" მომდინარეობს ბერძნული "დემოსიდან". ახალი კი გამოთქმიდან "Demo-Version"". ნარატორმა მკაფიოდ გამოსახა ყველა ის ჭუჭყი თუ ნაგავი, რომელიც რუსეთს 90-იან წლებში ჭამდა. ამ წიგნში არსებობს კლასიფიცირების ორი სახე: მაყურებელი და კრეატორი.

თუ საბჭოთა კავშირში რეალობას კომუნისტები აყალბებდნენ, ამ პროფესიას იმ დროინდელ რეალობაში მედია ითვისებს. გადასარჩენად, ანუ იმისთვის რომ პირმშო მაყურებელი არ გახდეს, ის კრეატორის როლის მორგებას ცდილობს, როგორც პროტაგონისტი ტატარსკი. ხოლო მაყურებლის პათოსი ხილულია: "Trapped? Masturbate".

"ისინი ზუსტად ისევე ირჩევდნენ პეპსის, როგორც მათი მშობლები ბრეჟნევს".

და რატომ "P" როგორც "პეპსი" და არა "P" როგორც "პიზდეცი"? ჩემი აზრით, ავტორმა გარდა პეპსისა, მეთხუთმეტე ასოში არამარტო წიგნის მთელი იდეა ჩადო, არამედ ნათლად წარმოაჩინა ყველა კუთხე ამ ბნელი დროებისა. შხამა სოკოებისა თუ სმაილიანი მჟავის ზემოქმედება ტატარსკის ერთ-ერთი მთავარი ფანტაზიის გამხსნელია, სხვა ყველა უბედურებასთან ერთად. "იოანე ღვთისმეტყველის Bad Trip". ნატურალურად წარმოჩენილი ჩე გევარა, მიუხედავად იმისა რომ ტექნოლოგიის ერთ-ერთი Setting-ია, მაინც თრიფის ნაწილად რჩება, ხოლო ბაბილონის გოდოლი სწორედ ის მწვერვალია, რითაც სამწუხაროდ ტატარსკი ამ ყველაფერში გარკვევას ცდილობს, თუმცა დაბრმავებულს ენის აღრევის არ ეშინია.

"You always get back to the basics"

მაყურებლების რაოდენობა კი ნამდვილად ჭარბობს მოცემულ სამყაროში. პარალელურად ავტორი შესანიშნავად წარმოგვიჩენს ფარ-ხმალ დაყრილ ადამიანებს, რომლებიც მარკეტინგული სამყაროსგან თავის გადასარჩენად ბუდისტურ მანტრას მიმართევენ, როგორიცაა სიმბოლო ამოყირავებული ტელევიზორი, რომლის მეშვეობითაც მაყურებელი მხოლოდ და მხოლოდ ამინდის გაგებას ცდილობს.

"This game has no name, It wil never be the same"

წიგნის ბოლოს კი მონარქიულ თავისუფლებას ავტორი გაშარჟებით ასრულებს და იმ დასკვნამდე მივდივართ, რომ მედიას ვირუსისგან დასაცავად ანტივირუსის Update სჭირდება.

და მართლად საავტორო უფლებები ამ წიგნის შეუცვლელი აქსიომაა.

"There they are in great dread,
For God is with Regreteous Generation".
4 reviews3 followers
May 30, 2007
Victor Pelevin is like a pop culture-savvy and Russian Murakami, or like Tom Robbins but less snarky and less lyrical or something. I LOVE him. This particular novel is really interesting because it approaches the world of advertising from a unexpected perspective: in soviet Russia, the seller is the sucker! Some twists are a little hokey, but the final twist is worth the read. I am a huge fan of Russian authors like Bulgakov, Dostoevsky and co, and he definitely plays around with these classic themes while elucidating the weirdness of Soviet Russia on it's last legs.
Profile Image for Tracy Reilly.
111 reviews32 followers
March 12, 2018
Mind-blowing book about how propaganda, especially of the commercial kind, literally infects our being. Pelevin is as hilarious as he is deadly in his satire of what drives modern life. The setting is post-Soviet Russia, rushing towards capitalism, but the message can send a depth charge to America as well. The visual of the Russian Parliament as a pack of cigarettes is----excuse the modern allusion--priceless. This is a different kind of 5 stars than I usually give, and I am already pushing on to Pelevin's more mystic works about werewolves.
Profile Image for J.M. Hushour.
Author 8 books200 followers
December 19, 2019
"Here we are interested not so much in the frightening prospects for tomorrow as in the no less frightening reality of today."

Lordy, this genius is hard to review!
I call it seance fiction. What this means is contacting a reality that runs parallel to ours for their perspective. They usually know better and are picky about their conveyance avatars, like Pelevin. In Homo, a young Russian guy forfeits a career in literature to work in advertising. His job in the main is to write advertisements for Western products but to sculpt them in such a way to make them palatable to the post-Soviet consumer. These are surreal and hilarious. When people start taking notice, he gets inculcated into the deeper, darker world of advertising, eventually discovering that all political figures around the world are digitized, motion-capture puppets and that ad creators write all the political crap, too. Tucked in between these plottings are bizarre and beautiful interludes where the hero does a lot of drugs and holds seances with "Che Guevara", some otherworldly menace who lays out for us the theory that people are not real because of the medium of the screen. Lurking also is another ancient strangeness in the form of Ishtar worship and the oral-anal theory of monetarism and consumerism.
Profile Image for Nevena.
Author 3 books168 followers
September 14, 2017
Изтормози ме този роман. С елементи на чудесна сатира, но липса наа свестен сюжет. Авторът сякаш е тръгнал с много идеи и е искал да ги изрази всичките – просто така, да си каже всичко, измислил го е все пак, защо да не го употреби. И сипе идеи на едро, загубвайки всякакъв баланс. Жалко, в началото намирах романа за свеж, накрая минавах през страниците насила.
Profile Image for Marzhan Alpysbayeva.
2 reviews1 follower
February 9, 2019
As it is now popular, I need to start with a disclaimer that this review is an expression of my humble opinion that you should and hopefully would not agree with, otherwise it would mean that wow-factors are doing their job. And beware, because Pelevin intends to both entertain and puzzle the reader by immersing you into what seems to be fundamental, reasonable and even intellectually appealing historical and philosophical narratives, but reducing it to the postmodernist absurdity.

Vavilen Tatarsky is a hero of our time. Although being situated by Pelevin in 90’s, his Odyssey and discoveries that he makes about himself and the “New Russia” around him will appeal to you. But while it could possibly be the result of the Pelevin’s genius and the timelessness of his craftsmanship, I felt as if I was a witness of the unchanging nature of Russian politics and all the unflattering conclusions you can derive from that. The publication of Generation P was by itself a challenge to the existing traditions. Before the book was published in 1999 by Vagrius after Pelevin’s 2-year silence, it was uploaded for a free public access to the Internet thus embodying Pelevin’s indifference towards the existing capitalist schemas. Pelevin’s status of a postmodern writer is strengthened by his provocative and yet very reserved behavior. He is one of the most globally recognized influential intellectuals in modern Russia and a recipient of numerous awards such as Russian Booker Prizes, InterPressCon and the Bronze Snail awards for The Blue Lantern, Russia's Wanderer Award for science fiction for his novel Chapaev and Void, and Germany's Richard Schoenfeld prize for the bestseller Generation P(3.5 million copies). And yet he prefers to stay out of spotlight allowing the free online access to his works that you can find here, which adds the mystical touch to his prophet-like status.

The seriousness of the tone of the narration and the nerve with which Vavilen lives through the most ridiculous experiences would regularly be puzzling and make you question the narrative and Pelevin’s intentions. Tatarsky is sent by Pelevin on a quest for the meaning of life in attempt to make sense of the world- a very relatable experience for people of 90s, and both unexpectedly and unfortunately, even more relevant for the contemporary reader. But the way ORANUS is presented as a philosophical and true explanation of 90’s reality which really is a simulacrum puzzles even the experienced reader. The sincerity and the logical flow of argumentation makes you seriously doubt Pelevin’s intentions. You can’t help but think how good 3 wow-impulses describe the modern consumerist culture, yet at the same time you can’t process the Freudian fixation concepts that are so closely tied to it in the most absurd way. So, does Pelevin make a statement proposing this model of interpreting the world or is he simply making fun of post-Soviet system or even you? We don’t know, but trust me on this, you will enjoy it anyway.

The literary components of this book add an extra layer of complexity that you might be already full of. But using Pelevin’s mythological terms, Generation P is a true Pandora’s box full of references, examples of intertextuality, and other experimental features of postmodernist literary works that seem to have no end, but all in a very playful and delightful way. For example, the chapter when ORANUS is described by Che Guevara during Tatarsky’s attempt to use the aleatory writing typical for postmodern genre, is an example of eclecticism. But speaking of genre, it is hard to identify Generation P as a pure and direct example of postmodern literature. Because Tatarsky is not an ordinary postmodern character as he is not trying to reject the metanarratives of Soviet ideology or destroy the old tradition. In contrary, because of his literary background he is attempting to build on top of the existing heritage through the constant references of Russian literary titans as Dostoevsky and Griboedov in his advertisements as though he is trying to replicate what neoclassicists did to Greek traditions and modernize the Russian heritage.

It is also worth to mention the mythological aspects of the novel and their connection to Pelevin’s personality. As Pelevin’s personal interest in Buddhist practices and the Eastern mysteries is reflected in Vavilen’s life. Everything starting from his authentic name reminding of Babylon and the Babel Tower to the highest status he was destined for are being dictated by the myths of Eastern civilizations. Moreover, these myths (e.g. 3 mysteries of Ishtar) provide the backbone to the adventures of the main character, as it is them that push him to the new levels in his quest to understand himself and the new world he happened to live in.

This complex yet fragile balance that Pelevin maintains between the polarities of absurd and crystal reason might be hard to grasp at first, but once you get the vibe you will be totally absorbed by your oral impulses that would call for the consumption of even bigger and perverse portions of this mockery to satisfy your appetite. Although you might by now think that you know what this book is like and what to expect from it, I must assure that it’s delusional, because Generation P intertwines multiple topics that it can be discussed upon, such as conspiracy theories as well as drug-inspired art processes that constitute the big part of the uniqueness of this literary work. So, what can I say? Bon Voyage and off to the world of ‘Saeculum Pizdec’.
3 reviews
February 5, 2017
Pelevin’s Homo Zapiens in Russian Generation P, quickly became a cult books. But, if you think that this novel will explain Russian people’s mindset or describe life during the nineties to you, then you are wrong. The author does not describe or explain Russian lifestyle during the nineties, neither he gives an answer to the question that bothers reader throughout this book. Pelevin is post-modernist and the book is structured as a dialogue between writer and the reader. I believe that Pelevin wants each reader to think about various questions he included in the book and find the answers by themselves. Homo Zapiens requires active reading, and you will not relax while reading it. Pelevin’s book is rather an experience, the best part of reading this novel happened after I finished it. I started to think about the themes in the novel and analyze different aspects of the story.
In short, Homo Zapiens main character is Vavilen Tatarsky who works in the advertisement industry. He creates ads for foreign brands to adopt them in the Russian market. It is very hard to say in a few words what this book is about. The novel is good because it works on a various level of reading. It can be read as a Vavilen Tatarsky story, but you can go deeper and try to discover other topics of the novel. Homo Zapiens is a post-modernist novel and it particularly follows the fragmentation feature of post-modern works. The novel is unique because it is about different topics at the same time. The novel is about advertisement industry, Babylon myths, conspiracy theories, nineties period in Russia, Russian national idea, hallucinogens, TV reality and oranuses. I believe that each of these themes has its own separate narrative in the book. For example, if you think that the book is about conspiracy theories, you will find pieces of evidence for that in the entire novel and not only in a few chapters. Alternatively, if you are in a mood for a mythical story, you can really narrow down Vavilen Tatarsky story, and it will be only about Babylon and Ishtar myths. You should approach Homo Zapiens as an active reader; think about the different aspects of the story and why Pelevin chose to include them. If you will carefully follow every tiny detail Pelevin have in his book, then you’ll have a chance to crack Vavilen Tatrsky story and gain an exceptional experience of reading this book.
However, I may not recommend reading this book if you don’t have a background in Russian history or culture. The book actually has a good portion of humor in it. The ads Vavilen Tatarsky creates throughout the novel are really funny and clever. However, I believe that it will be hard to get this humor without the knowledge of Russian history. In addition, one of the main topics in the novel is Russian national idea and the nineties period (happened right after the collapse of Soviet Union). You might still like the novel and find other interesting topics for you. However, you will miss the chance to get a new perspective on these topics about Russian history and culture.
Profile Image for Galina.
160 reviews126 followers
October 5, 2014
Осмиването на постсоциалистическата действителност не успя да ми влезе под кожата. В началото бях очарована от острия език на автора, от чувството му за хумор, което изглеждаше неизчерпаемо и иронията - в големи, огромни дози.
Към средата сериозно ми доскуча и въпреки въвеждането на нови персонажи и завръщането в повествованието на вече споменати лица, действието сякаш зацикли и започна да ме отегчава. Всичко описано е по руски мащабно - става дума за много пари, за много елементарни, прясно забогатели "предприемачи", за много и тежко действащи наркотици, за много алкохол, за крайно нелепи рекламни слогани и разни други причудливи завои в ежедневието на основният виновник за всичко случващо се - Татарски.
Американската реалност, посята в руска саксия, се оказва неизчерпаем източник на абсурдни идеи и още по-абсурдното им реализиране. Не знам в кой момент точно ми дойде в повече абсурда, но се случи и трудно дочаках финала. Струва ми се, че историята за объркан човек, който не разбира времето, в което живее, но успешно се възползва от него, вече съм я чела в различни вариации и точно тази не е любимата ми.
Profile Image for Oto Bakradze.
454 reviews31 followers
November 21, 2020
90-იანი წლების რუსეთის გარემო, სოციალიზმიდან გამოსვლა და კაპიტალიზმით ჩანაცვლება, დრაგები, ახალი პროდუქტები და ამ პროდუქტების მარკეტინგი,მაგრამ tbh არ მომეწონა. უფრო დიდი მოლოდინი მქონდა "ჩაპაევის და სიცარიელის" წაკითხვის შემდეგ. ყველა პროდუქტზე რეკლამის აღწერა იმდენად დიდი დოზითაა, რომ ცოტა მოსაბეზრებელი იყო ჩემთვის. ყველაზე მეტად რაც მომეწონა წიგნში ორალურ/ანალურ ვაუფაქტორის შედარება და მისი განვითარების დონეები იყო.

Profile Image for AiK.
491 reviews114 followers
September 15, 2021
Очень сильно напоминает 99 франков Бегбедера, но почему у обоих авторов рекламщики грязные типчики, кокаинисты и беспредельщики? Да, манипулятивным воздействием на подсознание, реклама стала новым идеологическим инструментом, если не оружием, направленным на создание общества зомбированного потребления. Но воздействовать можно на тех, у кого нет критического мышления, поэтому Хомо Запиенсы сами виноваты.
Profile Image for Gia Jgarkava.
435 reviews40 followers
April 3, 2019
Вторая книга Пелевина, которую прочтал и если честно, оценивая после 7 дет, по сравнению с Чапаев и Пустота это по слабее. Но не очень - это все-ровно один из топ-книг Пелевина.
Profile Image for Max Nemtsov.
Author 172 books473 followers
August 23, 2020
В общем, если отключить в себе профдеформацию и плавно скользить по самой поверхности текста, не особо разнимая его на части и не обращая внимания на все эти "кивки головой", этим даже можно наслаждаться (в разумных пределах). Как читать глянцевую газету примерно, хоть и устарелую. Или сборник бородатых анекдотов, хотя сейчас уже трудно сказать, что было раньше, роман или народ. Да и неохота в этом копаться. Но реалии конца 90х, конечно, документально узнаваемы, вот кто у нас реальный Нестор (с легкой стилистической поправкой на Стругов). Да и в любом случае, с середины 90х мы все живем в романе Пелевина, не выходя оттуда, ему даже придумывать ничего не надо, бери да списывай. Вот жизнь и списывает, как списала смену власти в 00м.
Profile Image for Bojan Mihajilović.
62 reviews25 followers
November 3, 2020
Sad tek vidim da je neko dodao ovu knjigu na Goodreads i stavio spoiler u opisu... Ako citas ovo, neki dobri Goodreads Librariane/samaricanine, ispravi ovu nepravdu...

Kod Pelevina su uvek u pitanju neka drustvena previranja, zavere, manipulacije i ova knjiga nije drugacija... Reklamokratiju Pol Andersona sam odavno citao i pomalo zaboravio, ali mi se cini da bi ova knjiga mogla da se opise kao Reklamokratija ruskih tranzicionih, devedesetih godina sa dodatnim obrtima :)

Za nijansu je losija/haoticnija od "Sok od ananasa za divnu damu" koju bih pre preporucio nekome ko se tek upoznaje sa opusom Victora Pelevina. No, bez obzira koliko se pripremite za Pelevina, ocekujte sok kad ga krenete citati... Prijatno!
Profile Image for Alla.
80 reviews22 followers
July 24, 2020
Как классно, что я не прочитала этот роман в студенчестве. Тогда его читали и обсуждали все мои однокурсники. Я тоже полистала книжку с Че Геварой на обложке для приличия, но отрывки про мухоморы, Иштар и Вавилон как суровые бабки у метро периода 90х отговорили меня от Поколения П. Не знаю, что там поняли мои однокурсники.. но я точно не поняла бы в этом романе ничего. Только сейчас я прониклась всей гениальностью этого романа, который стал по-моему самой удачной попыткой осмыслить нелепое десятилетие 90-х в постсоветской России.
Сарказм, ирония, реклама, у.е., полит-технологии, полное отсутствие «русской идеи», поиски новой опоры и идеологии и эксперименты с наркотиками. В общем, Ай да Витя, Ай да сукин сын.
Profile Image for Tsuhonets.
96 reviews1 follower
April 21, 2016
Indeed, a gem. I'm reasonably excited because I haven't come across such a piece in a while.

The humour was excellent. Surrealistic. Like modernised Gogol. Lots of awfully funny nuances. I think the translation as well deserves to be mentioned because although I do not know the original script, I can imagine that the language in this book has required some real brainstorming, so inventive it is.

My favourite part of the book was probably the lengthy and lavish manifesto by Che Guevara's spirit about television, primary objects, secondary objects, anal-wow-factor & oral-wow-factor as well as wow-factor (sublime terms coined by the author to argue that we live for materialism). It was well funny but at the same time very insightful rant about how we have practically substituted our consciousness with that of mass media.

I have not read new Russian literature much (as in published less than 50 years ago) so this was a nice start.
Profile Image for Paulina.
190 reviews45 followers
September 4, 2012
finished it in one day. gave me the strangest dream: I wandered into some derelict building - I could see the sea through one window and some huge mountains through another - and met this flying dragon-fox-angelesque creature.

then we sat down like proper yoga people and had a cup of absent. talked about something - probably commercials and pepsicola.
afterwards I went out through the door and met Tatarsky, who asked me whether I had a light. Of course I had a light. but I couldn't find it.
this made him really unhappy and he sent some mobsters after me.

it got really creepy. but then I woke up.

do not read Generation P before falling asleep.
Profile Image for Oriana.
Author 2 books3,297 followers
April 15, 2009
Ah ha, I am copying my own comment on someone else's review into this review because I am lazy and I think it's sad that I never wrote anything here.

Homo Zapiens is (IMO) Pelevin's tour de force. It's a totally fucking incredible story of advertising and mass psychology in post-Communist Russia, with a heavy dose of psychedelic mushrooms, violence, mistaken identity, etc. It's been a few years since I read it, but holy shit was it ever nuts. Plus one of the best cover illos ever.
Profile Image for Nelly Aghabekyan.
46 reviews46 followers
April 24, 2012
The book was quote interesting, but not really my kind of read. Among all the imaginary and not so much revelations, those that truly interested me were stories of post-Soviet Russia and references to ancient mythologies. Ending didn't have the closure I expected, but thanks to all the mysteries left untold, my thoughts still keep jumping back to them, as if trying to see something I missed, something that was obvious all along. Was worth reading anyway.
Profile Image for Fukaeri.
33 reviews8 followers
June 29, 2020
90-იანების პოსტსაბჭოთა გაურკვევლობის, კულტურული დეგრადაციისა და სიცარიელის პერიოდი. თანამედროვეობისა და ძველი ცივილიზაციების თანაკვეთა განსაკუთრებით საინტერესო იყო.
July 20, 2020
ერთ თვეზე დიდხანს ვკითხულობდი ამ წიგნს. ძალიან საინტერესო სიუჟეტია, ორმაგად საინტერესო თუ 90-იანი წლების რუსეთით ხართ დაინტერესებული თავისი სოციალურ პოლიტიკური ყოფით. თუმცა ვფიქრობ სიუჟეტი გაწელილია. არის მომენტები, როცა ვეღარ ითმენ ისე გაინტერესებს მოვლენების განვითარება და მერე კი ისე ვითარდება მოვლენები რომ ერთი თვე ხელს აღარ მოკიდებ.

მოკლედ, ჩემი სუბიექტური აზრით ბევრად კარგი გამოვიდოდა ავტორს რომ არ გაეწელა.
Profile Image for ლუკა ჭყოიძე.
60 reviews2 followers
February 15, 2021
ვფიქრობდი, სამ ვარსკვლავს დავუწერ-მეთქი, ვინაიდან წიგნი, ჩემი აზრით, მომაბეზრებლად სავსეა სარეკლამო კომპანიების, ლოგოების, ზოგადად, სხვადასხვა ბრენდის არსისა თუ დანიშნულების დასურათხატებით, მაგრამ იმან, რაც წიგნის ბოლო გვერდებზე მოხდა, მეოთხე ვარსკვლავი დამაწერინა და თამამად ვამბობ, პელევინი გასული მწერალია, სხვაგანაა, ძველ მითოლოგიურ ცივილიზაცებსა და სარეკლამო მაქინაციებშია ჩაკარგული.
P.S. ვავილენ ტატარსკიმ სწორი გადაწყვეტილება მიიღო: „ბუფეტში დღეიდან მარტო „კოკა-კოლა“ იყოს და არანაირი „პეპსი“.
Profile Image for Dinara.
57 reviews
February 12, 2019
Where Reality Ends and Fiction Starts in Pelevin’s Novel Generation “P”

Reading Pelevin’s Generation “P” is like watching letsplay on the new game on youtube without a sound. You can just observe what the character does with some small understanding of what is going on. Nobody explains you anything and all you can do is to try to make educated guesses.
The main hero of the game - Vavilen Tatarsky is the collective image of people of 70s. Of those mystical times when criminals were romanticized, and people disappear faster than warm buns from a bakery in the morning. By the way, the advertisement for the bakery is the debut of Vavilen in the world of advertisement, to where he got after working on the criminal in a stand (kiosk). Owing to his literary education in university, Vavilen successfully goes up in his career path, changing three bosses on his way. From times to times, to stay inspired, he takes into mushrooms, some drugs and LSD, which help him to generate new creative ideas as well as to see some strange things as a goddess, speaking dog and even speak to the spirit of Che Guevara. By those drug trips, Vavilen travels into himself and the world, trying to understand all its mysteries.

The novel is structured in the way of the computer game. Our character starts from zero level, having only his university education as a tool. He also knows little about this world and what is happening around. Readers together with the character see things, read his thoughts and learn what protagonist learns with small portions, hoping to make sense from it later. As Vavilen promoted, we go to the next level with new problems and questions to answer. The novel leads a reader softly and slows through the reality of the world of the 90s with its cruelty, showing what is hidden around each corner: danger, deaths of unfortunate businessmen, criminals ruling the business and talking with police as equal, economic and social instability. However, it is not that tragic tour, or better to say it tries not to show it by the derision of character’s actions, silly advertisement lines, insults to those fans of cola. That all can hamper readers from the realization of how scary those times were, causing the older generation to nostalgy while making younger laughing but for both be confused. But, at the same time, such a “lovely” setting did not appear from nowhere. The setting consists from the real people who were killed in the attempt to make money and to become “New Russian”- rich and successful businessmen. From people who lost everything they believed in after the dance of the tanks. Therefore, it is important for us as well as for Vavilen Tatarsky to know where reality is and where there is only substitution of the reality known also as Simulacra.

The representative of people from generation “P” lives in four layers of realities. The first one is the internal of the character, external of the world outside, mythical of goddess Ishtar and god Enkidu, and the realm of advertisements. The reality of both internal and external worlds intervenes with the fiction of mythical one. The thing is that after some time the borders between them disappear, and to know where reality is, becomes impossible. By working in an advertisement company, Vavilen creates another layer of reality for all lost people who want to find some truth in advertised products. He starts from creating some fictional condition that emerges when you buy Sprite, Harley motorcycle, brand GAP and even donating to Christ. Tatarsky assures that consuming those things will make a person feel better about his current condition, thereby creating another reality consumers believe in. However, he does not stop there. From creating additional reality through promo videos, Tatarsky goes to work on Media Channel. There he first checks the advertisement scripts of others and then controls what other politicians will say by writing script to their 3-d models. By the way, it turns out that there are no politicians at all but only their 3-d models that are controlled by some higher authorities. Substitution of reality to the fictional one in the novel Generation “P” is similar to the Precession of Simulacra. Jean Baudrillard described this process in his philosophical treatise “Simulacra and Simulation” in 1981. According to Jean Baudrillard, the last couple of years people with the help of signs and symbols via media substituted the real things with the constructed perceptions of those things. In other words, we do not experience the things itself but the imitation of these things. The same is true with the politicians in the Generation “P”. Not knowing that politicians do not exist (but not for sure), people listen to their copies, words for those are created by people like Tatarsky, who can only assume what they could say or better: what other say they might say. The world of the Generation “P” is the brightest example of Simulacra.

Now, when you started to doubt the world you live in, or to be concrete, only one of its layers. I suggest you get even more confused and start playing the book-game Generation “P”.
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