Sergei Dovlatov's subtle, dark–edged humor and wry observations are in full force in The Suitcase as he examines eight objects—the items he brought with him in his luggage upon his emigration from the U.S.S.R. These seemingly undistinguished possessions, stuffed into a worn–out suitcase, take on a riotously funny life of their own as Dovlatov inventories the circumstances under which he acquired them, occasioning a brilliant series of interconnected tales: A poplin shirt evokes the bittersweet story of a courtship and marriage, while a pair of boots (of the kind only the Nomenklatura can afford) calls up the hilarious conclusion to an official banquet. Some driving gloves—remnants of Dovlatov's short–lived acting career—share space with neon–green crepe socks, reminders of a failed black–market scam. And in curious juxtaposition, the belt from a prison guard's uniform lies next to a stained jacket that once belonged to Fernand Léger.
Imbued with a comic nostalgia overlaid with Dovlatov's characteristically dry wit, The Suitcase is an intensely human, delightfully ironic novel from "the finest Soviet satirist to appear in English since Vladimir Voinovich."
Several decades after emigrating from the Soviet Union, the author discovered the battered suitcase he had brought with him gathering dust at the back of a closet. Rummaging through its contents provided the inspiration for this engaging collection of stories in which Dovlatov acts as narrator. All are delivered with an exquisite sense of timing, and ironic humor counterpoints the seriousness of their united theme: the woeful failing of Soviet socialism. ``The Finnish Crepe Socks'' describes his partly successful attempt to become a black market racketeer while at college. In ``A Decent Double-Breasted Suit,'' Dovlatov, by now a journalist, is approached by the KGB to spy on a Swedish writer. Regarding the whole thing as a lark, Dovlatov is willing to comply, but for a price--a new suit. The Swede is expelled, which gives the narrative a bittersweet twist. The most poignant story, ``A Poplin Shirt,'' frankly examines the author's troubled relationship with his wife and her decision to leave Russia without him (he subsequently emigrated in 1978). A subtle tension underlies Dovlatov's writing, for although he now seems to regard his youthful scrapes with a somewhat jaundiced eye, his longing for his mother country is palpable. This slim volume of interconnected tales, called a novel by the publisher, is a companion to Dovlatov's similarly semi-autobiographical The Compromise and Ours.
What a great book!
What would I say! Go and read it right now don’t waste your time reading my review, the stories all are so funny although has that sadness which flew around, so lovable book from the great and one of my fave Dovlatov, don’t miss him.