One morning in 1949, Fan Fanych, alias Etcetera, is summoned from his Moscow apartment to KGB headquarters, where he is informed that he will be charged with a crime more heinous than any mere man could ever devise. Comrade Etcetera will be tried for “the vicious rape and murder of an aged kangaroo in the Moscow Zoo on a night between July 14, 1789 and January 9, 1905.”
Every moment in the nightmarish and hilarious account that follows lives up to the absurdity of this accusation. A seductive KGB agent attempts to convince Fan Fanych that he is a kangaroo; he finds himself in the dock at a spectacular show trial; is sent to a camp full of dedicated old Bolsheviks pathetically attempting to maintain their beliefs in the face of every new atrocity; encounters Hitler in Berlin and Churchill, Roosevelt, and Stalin at Yalta, where he is privileged to witness the famous conference as it was really conducted.
Kangaroo is a savage, cleansing satire in which Yuz Aleshkovsky confronts the hypocrisy, the cruelty, and the tragic failure of the Soviet regime. His phantasmagoria is faithful to reality, for—as Dostoevsky knew—it is impossible for realism to portray a society whose corruption is literally fantastic.