Summary and book reviews of The Senility of Vladimir P. by Michael Honig

The Senility of Vladimir P.

by Michael Honig

The Senility of Vladimir P. by Michael Honig X
The Senility of Vladimir P. by Michael Honig
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  • First Published:
    Aug 2016, 336 pages
    Paperback:
    Aug 2017, 336 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Gary Presley

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About this Book

Book Summary

A biting satire of a particular despot and a deeply humane allegory of the fragility of goodness and the contagion of unchecked power.

Set twenty-odd years from now, it opens on Patient Number One - Vladimir Putin, largely forgotten in his presidential dacha, serviced by a small coterie of house staff, drifting in and out of his memories of the past. His nurse, charged with the twenty-four-hour care of his patient, is blissfully unaware that his colleagues are using their various positions to skim money, in extraordinarily creative ways, from the top of their employer's seemingly inexhaustible riches.

But when a family tragedy means that the nurse suddenly needs to find a fantastical sum of money fast, the dacha's chef lets him in on the secret world of backhanders and bribes going on around him, and opens his eyes to a brewing war between the staff and the new housekeeper, the ruthless new sheriff in town.

A brilliantly cast modern-day Animal FarmThe Senility of Vladimir P. is a coruscating political fable that shows, through an honest man slipping his ethical moorings, how Putin has not only bankrupted his nation economically, but has also diminished it culturally and spiritually. It is angry, funny, page-turning, and surprisingly moving.

Excerpt
The Senility of Vladimir P.

He didn't know how long he had been sitting there. Could have been two hours. Could have been two years.

Suddenly, a connection in his brain sparked to life and set of a chain of ignitions, like a momentary flickering of stars lighting up across a darkening, dying galaxy.

"Why am I here?" he yelled angry. "What am I doing?"

"Waiting," said Sheremetev, plumping up one of the pillows on his bed.

"What for?"

"For the meeting."

Vladimir's eyes narrowed. "Have I been briefed?"

"Of course," replied Sheremetev calmly.

"Good." Vladimir nodded. His expression changed, losing its anger. Already he was forgetting what he had been upset about. The connection, wherever it was in his brain, had been snuffed out, perhaps never to spark again, and the self-awareness that had erupted momentarily into his consciousness was gone. He sat quietly and watched Sheremetev work. Vladimir couldn't have said exactly who the other man was, but nonetheless he was at ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Honig’s work is an intriguing personal story, with Sheremetev, a Mr. Everyman protagonist, kind, empathetic, and yet often wearily disaffected. It is political satire too, not overly subtle, inflicting razor-sharp cuts on the corrupt and corrupting aspects of unfettered crony capitalism that raped Russia post-Yeltsin.   (Reviewed by Gary Presley).

Full Review (516 words).

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Media Reviews

Kirkus Reviews

Though Honig is a little heavy-handed with rhetorical questions, his study of what remains of a person once time takes its toll on the body and mind is a stunning take on the development of the corrupt and the corrupted. A surprisingly touching investigation of motive, duty, and greed.

Booklist

Honig contrasts his protagonist’s principled kindness with a society in which corruption is ubiquitous, perhaps unavoidable. Priceless moments––Vladimir suddenly strips off his shirt, assuming photographers are present—amplify the seriousness of Honig’s indictment of the present-day Putin administration, and those who empower it by looking away.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. In a novel reminiscent of the meticulous visual art of a Robert Altman ensemble film, Honig, a former surgeon who lives in England, showcases a keen eye for characters and set pieces and a pitch-perfect ear for satire. The flawed, naive Sheremetev, caught in the push and pull of his own outmoded beliefs, is at the center of this scintillating work of social commentary.

The Spectator (UK)

Amid its screwball rage this very funny book is also an unexpectedly touching one.

The Independent (UK)

A scathing satire. The Senility of Vladimir P. is a clear attack on the corruption and greed of Putin's Russia and a sharp reminder of how authoritarian rule can infect a generation.

The Daily Mail (UK)

Blackly comic. A novel about an innocent who learns too late that when a country goes to the dogs, so, all too often, do its people.

The Guardian (UK)

A story worth telling. Many of the events described are happening now and often not very far away.

Reader Reviews

Mark Day

Refreshingly different
Very few book make my favorites list, but The Senility of Vladimir P. offered up everything I look for in a novel. This satire is intelligent, dark and angry. The novel sheds light on the enigma of Vladimir Putin's Russia by looking back from the ...   Read More

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Luxury Watches

According to Michael Honig's imagined life of Vladimir Putin in his novel The Senility of Vladimir P., the dictator-president could be impressed by the gift of a fine wristwatch – "fine" meaning anything beyond the standard Rolex.

In this era, a good majority of the younger generation keeps track of time by using a smart phone, completely accurate, automatically updated, no wristwatch required. But many of us still wear, enjoy, and sometimes even covet a luxury – luxury, defined on a variable scale – time piece. There's more than one man with a $30 Casio on his wrist who would drool over a Tag Heuer Monaco Calibre Chronograph. The $5,900 price tag would be mere walking around money after that big Powerball lottery win. ...

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