> Skip to content
  • Published: 3 October 2011
  • ISBN: 9781407085821
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 480

The Milkman in the Night

A new masterpiece from the author of the cult classic Death and the Penguin.

Semyon is disturbed. He has woken up in the living room with blood on his shirt, an angry wife and no idea where he was the night before. After waking to find his boots and overcoat damp on several mornings in a row, Semyon realises his excursions are a nightly occurrence. Concerned for his own safety and for the security of his marriage, he asks his friend and business partner Volodka to follow him on his nocturnal wanderings.

The next morning, Volodka gives Semyon a full report. He left the apartment a little after 2 a.m. and walked several blocks until he encountered a tall blonde, whom he kissed and accompanied to her door. But when he visits the address in the daytime, the bemused Semyon doesn’t recognise the location. And stranger yet, someone has been watching Volodka watching Semyon.

As the adventure unfurls, an unemployed sniffer-dog handler makes a dangerous discovery, a single mother provides breast milk for an unusual recipient, and a vengeful cat is on the loose. All in all, there are some very strange goings-on in Kiev.

  • Published: 3 October 2011
  • ISBN: 9781407085821
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 480

About the author

Andrey Kurkov

Andrey Kurkov was born in St Petersburg in 1961. Having graduated from the Kiev Foreign Languages Institute, he worked for some time as a journalist, did his military service as a prison warder in Odessa, then became a writer of screenplays and author of critically acclaimed and popular novels, including the bestselling Death and the Penguin. Kurkov has long been a respected commentator on Ukraine for the world’s media, notably in the UK, France, Germany and the States.

Also by Andrey Kurkov

See all

Praise for The Milkman in the Night

Set in post-Orange Revolution Kiev, Kurkov's narrative is a meditation on the uneasy dreams of a troubled cultural psyche.

Laurence Scott, Times Literary Supplement

A glorious, epic, eccentric and often hilarious satire, heavily tinged with Russian melancholy

Kate Saunders, The Times

Drugs, milk and a brace of cats pop up in a murky epic from Ukraine's master of the surreal conspiracy thriller


Kurkov works in the tradition of Nikolai Gogol and Mikhail Bulgakov, blending folkloric characters, magical realism and political satire to reveal a society riddled with greed, stupidity and corruption.

Marina Lewycka, Financial Times

Set in post-Orange Revolution Kiev, Kurkov's narrative is a meditation on the uneasy dreams of a troubled cultural psyche... The novel's imperfect dopplegangers and off-key repetitions warm the shiver of the traditional uncanny, and in doing so replicate the dreamer's affable toleration of obvious frauds... What lingers in Kurkov's depiction of a Kiev both somnolent and necropolitan, is the notion that Ukraine's recent past has been blighted by toxic wastefulness, the bad vigilance of espionage and surveillance.

Times Literary Supplement

This book is a joyride in which the joyless mix with the fearful, the crazy, the paranoid, not to mention some innocent jetsam... Kurkov has a rollercoaster of fun between zig and zag. He defies the reader not to join him.


Kurkov's imagination kicks into high gear and turns Kiev into an absurdist playground. The result is a whimsical, skewed vision which can be, by turns, delightful and discomforting.


Kurkov entices us along all the fault-lines of his bizarre world, where a young man sleepwalks through a double life and a widow notices her embalmed husband has fresh dirt on his unworn shoes.

Jane Jakeman, Independent

Kurkov has an artisan's eye for quirky detail but dispatches it with terse Eastern pessimism. Here, he weaves a low-key epic in which a series of characters - a single mother, a sniffer-dog handler, a security guard, a politician, a man having an affair in his sleep, a widow, two cats and a plastinated corpse - become embroiled in a bizarre conspiracy involving a drug that sharpens people's sense of justice and a very dodgy milking operation. It sounds fanciful but Kurkov never gets too caught up in this world, describing it with a pragmatic economy and powerful clarity.

Andrzej Lukowski, Metro

Related titles