Review: Berlin Books - Russian Disco
Russian Disco: Wladimir Kaminer
Russian Disco is a disjointed book. Fifty short tales of life in Berlin from Russian author, sometimes the stories over-lap, they don't seem to be in any kind of order, and sometimes you are just not sure what on earth Kaminer is going on about...
But that was probably the intention. After all, Russian Disco documents Kaminer's life in Berlin following emigration in 1990, in that period between the fall of the Berlin Wall and the final collapse of the DDR. He moved into a flat vacated by an East German who had just upped and left. He spent time in a foreigner reception centre in Marzahn. He was an extra in a war movie, he meets more crazy people than you can imagine, and he tells all their (and his) stories with humour and a sense of chaos that suits the turbulant time about which he is writing.
Along the way Kaminer and friends began the now legendary Russendisko nights, an event that is also covered by the book, as well as beginning his media career that has led to this, and other bestselling books as well as newspaper columns including a regular spot in Zitty magazine. This journey, with diversions along the way including re-selling Aldi goods outside Lichtenberg Station and other money-making schemes, musings on Russian phone-sex and German citizenship, to sardonic observations about the Russian community in the city.
Despite the fact that sometimes the pieces seem too short (2/3 pages) and as a reader you actually want more, Russian Disco is a good, if quick, read. Kaminer is both smart and funny, and the translator has done a great job putting it into English.