Several years after emigrating from the USSR, the author discovers the battered suitcase he had brought with him gathering dust at the back of a wardrobe. As he opens the suitcase, the seemingly undistinguished items he finds inside take on a riotously funny life of their own as Dovlatov inventories the circumstances under which he acquired them. A poplin shirt evokes the bittersweet story of courtship and marriage, a pair of boots calls up the hilarious conclusion to an official banquet, two pea-green crepe socks bring back memories of his partly successful attempt to become a black-market racketeer, while a double-breasted suit reminds him of when he was approached by the KGB to spy on a Swedish writer.
'One wishes that he'd lived longer, been published sooner, given us more.' Francine Prose 'A novel reminiscent of a Buster Keaton movie.' The New York Times 'Dovlatov's writing is simple but witty, with a hint of nostalgia; you can't help but smile throughout. His tales open a small window on to daily life in the former Soviet Union.' The Observer 'His manically funny, deceptively simple style is on intimate terms with life's bleak comedy.' The Guardian
Born to an Armenian mother and a Jewish father, Sergei Dovlatov (1941 - 90) grew up in Leningrad. Because of his writings, which he could not publish in Russia, he was persecuted by the authorities, and ultimately forced into exile in the US, where he developed his talent as a comic writer. Since his death in 1990, Dovlatov has become one of the most popular and widely read authors in Russia.