Various Pets Alive & Dead

by Marina Lewycka (Penguin) ISBN 9781905490912


Lewycka’s fourth book is uninspired and full of clichés, but maybe I just did not ‘get’ it. 


What I am looking for in a novel is something that touches the soul, that comes from within, whichever source that might be, something that makes me laugh out loud or makes me cry. Various Pets Alive & Dead did not move me, did not make me laugh and I found it a complete waste of time. 


If anyone wants to give it a try: The story is told in five parts, through several viewpoints, set in the economic crisis year 2008. Doro and Marcus are stereotypical parents from the hippie era who lived in a commune with their own children, Serge and Clara, and Oolie a Down’s syndrome girl, whom they co-parent.


Serge is an analyst at an investment bank, too scared to tell his parents about his materialistic job. Clara is a school teacher trying to bring order to her life and Oolie is the handicapped adult desperate to move out and become independent. Her voice is the most sincere. The various pets of the title are an unnecessary distraction.


Lewycka was shortlisted for the Orange Prize for her debut, A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian.


Pauline Vijverberg


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