Skip to content

Booker International Longlist 2023 – Jimi Hendrix Live in Lviv

Jimi Hendrix Live in Lviv

Book 4 Jimi Hendrix Live in Lviv by Andrey Kurkov Translated by Reuben Woolley

Reviewed by Bookworm & Rachel

Synopsis from Booker Prize website: Shot through with Kurkov’s unique brand of black humour and vodka-fuelled magic realism, Jimi Hendrix Live in Lviv is an affectionate portrait of one of the world’s most intriguing cities. 

Strange things are afoot in the cosmopolitan city of Lviv, western Ukraine. Seagulls are circling and the air smells salty, though Lviv is a long way from the sea. A ragtag group gathers round a mysterious grave in Lychakiv Cemetery – among them an ex-KGB officer and an ageing hippy he used to spy on. Before long, Captain Ryabtsev and Alik Olisevych team up to discover the source of the ‘anomalies’.

Meanwhile, Taras – who makes a living driving kidney-stone patients over cobblestones in his ancient Opel Vectra – is courting Darka, who works nights at a bureau de change despite being allergic to money. The young lovers don’t know it, but their fate depends on two lonely old men, relics of another era, who will stop at nothing to save their city.

BookWorm’s Thoughts:  I love magical realism and this book did not disappoint. The characters are weird and whacky and by the end of the story I had developed affection for every one of them.

Told from switching points of view the characters while seeming to be completely separate from each other each become drawn into the orbit of the strange events happening at night in Lviv.

I liked the wry humour surrounding the KGB agent turned friend to hippies who can’t help carrying parts of his old life around with him and I loved the unconventional cure for kidney stones.

This was a fun and original read that really captures the imagination.

Writing quality: 4/5
Originality: 4/5
Character development: 4/4
Plot development: 4/4
Overall enjoyment: 2/2
Total: 18/20

Rachel’s Thoughts: I thoroughly enjoyed reading this absurd but affectionate novel set amongst the night-time streets and characters of Lviv. As someone who has spent the last week muttering about (or maybe at) the seagull who has taken to knocking on the windows at work (persistently, for hours on end), I laughed a lot.

However, if you were to ask me what this book is about, I’m not sure I could tell you. The storylines were a little disjointed, yet the conclusion didn’t feel surprising or original – I guess I just wanted more. I am really happy to have been introduced to Andrey Kurkov’s work through this book, though, and will eagerly be seeking out his other titles, even if the plot of Jimi Hendrix Live in Lviv didn’t grab me as I’d hoped.

Writing quality: 3.5/5
Originality 4/5
Character development 3/4
Plot development 2/4
Overall enjoyment 1.5/2
Total 14/20

Have you read this one? Let us know what you thought.

Still Born 17.25
Ninth Building 16
Jimi Hendrix Live in Lviv 16
Whale 15.5

One Comment Post a comment
  1. I haven’t read this one but I read his book Death and the Penguin and the description ‘wacky’ certainly fits that one. There’s a mafia element in it too.


    April 5, 2023

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: