Vovochka: The True Confessions of Vladimir Putin’s Best Friend and Confidant: ($20, 152pp, 6X9”, Print ISBN: 978-1-68114-201-2, EBook ISBN: 978-1-68114-202-9, LCCN: 2015915059, October 2015; Purchase on Amazon or Barnes & Noble): Welcome to Vladimir Putin’s phantasmagoric world, where a heady mixture of Orthodoxy, socialism, imperialism, racism, homophobia, and Mother Russia worship defines and distorts reality. Vovochka is the story of “Vovochka” Putin and his intimate friend—a KGB agent with the same nickname. The two Vovochkas recruit informers in Berlin’s gay bars, spy on East German dissidents, survive the trauma of the Soviet Union’s collapse, fight American, Ukrainian, Jewish, and Estonian “fascists,” and plot to restore Russia’s power and glory. As their mindset assumes increasingly bizarre forms, Vovochka Putin experiences bouts of self-doubt that culminate in a weeklong cure in North Korea. A savage satire, Vovochka is also a terrifyingly plausible account of Vladimir Putin’s evolution from a minor KGB agent in East Germany to the self-styled Savior and warmongering leader of a paranoid state.
“Buy the Book: Russia’s Macho Leader Exposed: True Confessions from Vovochka, Putin’s Best Friend and Confidant” (Alexander J. Motyl) by Michael Johnson, 11.16.15: “This book is long overdue—a sendup of Russian President Vladimir Putin, the macho horseman and judo master so often photographed with rippling pecs. The reality, says this comic novel, is quite the opposite… Motyl’s story succeeds on two levels: it overlays actual events with a slightly skewed fictional story, and it exploits the bombast of Russian officialdom by pretending to take it seriously. The result is a parody in the great tradition of free expression.” —The American Spectator, (45+ comments): http://spectator.org/articles/64663/russia%E2%80%99s-macho-leader-exposed
“Vovochka drips with veracity, with the truth of today’s Russia, of not the Soviet mindset but the mindset of Holy Russia. The reader is left with the impression that, even though the events and dialogue might not have occurred exactly as portrayed, there is enough authenticity to the thoughts and behavior of the two Vovochkas to make it all very plausible… and very chilling. Nothing funny here./ Mr. Putin’s Russia has changed little. Holy Russia is back in vogue. The tsar has returned from the grave. Only a miracle can prevent Russia and its people from sliding back to its deep-rooted ways./ One more thing, dear reader. The orange and blue cover of Vovochka was rendered by the author of the “infamous” “Ukraine’s Orange Blues” column. Isn’t that just too cool?” —Myron Kuropas, The Ukrainian Weekly, December 6, 2015, page 7: http://www.ukrweekly.com/uwwp/wp-content/uploads/current-pdf/The_Ukrainian_Weekly_2015-49.pdf
ARDOR: or How would-be Nobel Prize winner C. Milosz enjoyed the high life with low life in Italy, hobnobbed with a Viktor Yanukovych look-alike, and met his Muse on the rooftop of the Duomo: ($20, 6X9”, 130pp, Paperback ISBN-13: 978-1-68114-243-2, $35: Hardcover ISBN-13: 978-1-68114-244-9; $2.99: EBSCO EBook: 978-1-68114-254-8, LCCN: 2016904783, Release: August 1, 2016; Purchase on Amazon, Google Books, or Barnes & Noble): Chester Milosz, a very minor American poet who teaches at a very minor American college and aspires to win the Nobel, receives an invitation to a meeting of global high-flyers at the Otto Nabokov Foundation’s Ardor Haus estate in Caravaggio, Italy. The organizers are Dickey Lemon, a British billionaire who made his fortune in hamster bedding, and Joe Zsasz, an ex-communist functionary-turned-international consultant. The participants are a sundry collection of business people, policymakers, journalists, and academics involved in shady dealings with a corrupt Eastern European president who closely resembles Ukraine’s Viktor Yanukovych. Chester decides to go in the hope that a trip to northern Italy will help overcome his writer’s block. While at Ardor Haus, he experiences cultural misunderstandings, comic misadventures, near-encounters with inspiration, and three earthquakes. It eventually dawns on Chester that he’s been confused with the Nobel Prize winner, Czesław Miłosz, and that the conference is an elaborate scam. After a major earthquake destroys Caravaggio, Chester finds his Muse on the rooftop of the Duomo in Milan.
“Really smart and enjoyable read. Philosophical comedic remarks on this hilarious journey to a mysterious conference where our narrator is taken for the Nobel-prize winner but (a) he has nearly the same name; (b) he is also a poet with big ambition and (c) no one else knows the difference! Glamorous surroundings, tedious speeches by gormless overly wealthy financiers of the conference, think they are borrowing world-class recognition for an African dictator – there are Russians and lots of vodka, fast cars, hopeless academics and freeloaders – he never really finds out who they are but local terrain and earthquakes makes it all very real – but we don’t dwell on that – despite ending a bit abruptly, I loved the narrator and the cartoonish figures and the literary references abounded – made me feel smart to know them -hahaha – really good fun,.” —Leslie Gardner, LibraryThing Early Reviewer, co-founded, Artellus Ltd (literary agency)
“A political, social and intellectual satire, Ardor pokes fun at the overblown pretensions of professors, poets, journalists, policy-makers, businesspeople and foundation officers, and features none other than Viktor Yanukovych as one of its central characters.” —The Ukrainian Weekly, “New Releases: Alexander Motyl’s latest novel”
Alexander J. Motyl is a writer, painter, and professor. Nominated for the Pushcart Prize in 2008 and 2013, he is the author of seven novels, Whiskey Priest, Who Killed Andrei Warhol, Flippancy, The Jew Who Was Ukrainian, My Orchidia, Sweet Snow, and Fall River, and a collection of poems, Vanishing Points. Motyl’s artwork has been displayed in solo and group shows in New York, Philadelphia, and Toronto and is part of the permanent collection of the Ukrainian Museum in New York and the Ukrainian Cultural and Educational Centre in Winnipeg. He teaches at Rutgers University-Newark and is the author of six academic books, many articles, and a weekly blog on “Ukraine’s Orange Blues.”