THE YELLOW ARROW by Victor Pelevin

THE YELLOW ARROW

KIRKUS REVIEW

 An enigmatic novella, whose suggestive central image strikingly encapsulates the character of post-Soviet society and, more generally, the fate of man--from the prize-winning Russian author of Omon Ra (see above). Protagonist Andrei is riding on a train called the Yellow Arrow, whose destination, he learns, is a ruined bridge. Passengers die, their funerals are held on board the train, and their bodies are thrown ``out there'' beyond the passing embankments. ``World culture takes a long time to reach us,'' Andrei's fellow travellers complain, enduring their closeted state as best they can by practicing an indigenous ``folk art'' (the train does a thriving business in handpainted beer cans) and also the religion of ``bedeism'' (the belief that they're being pulled along by a ``B.D. 3'' locomotive). One thinks, inevitably, of a cramped and repressed population unable to break free of its imprisoning environment--but Pelevin's wry fable earns a convincingly wider resonance. Andrei guesses that the train may be named as it is because its lateral motion visually resembles the vertical descent of falling stars (``yellow arrows'') in the foreordained transit from incandescence to extinction. He shares the common yearning to journey ``out there'' past his compartment's windows, while knowing he can do so only when his own portion of the train's journey is concluded. Imagine Hermann Hesse with a robust sense of humor, and you'll have an idea of the complex emotional texture Pelevin manages to create for his story's climactic moment--a climax that daringly evokes, and does not suffer from comparison with, Tolstoy's great short novel The Death of Ivan Ilyich. A brilliant parable that treats a dauntingly abstract conception with vivid specificity and clear-eyed humanity.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-8112-1324-2
Page count: 96pp
Publisher: New Directions
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 1996




MORE BY VICTOR PELEVIN

FictionTHE SACRED BOOK OF THE WEREWOLF by Victor Pelevin
by Victor Pelevin
FictionTHE HELMET OF HORROR by Victor Pelevin
by Victor Pelevin
FictionHOMO ZAPIENS by Victor Pelevin
by Victor Pelevin