Penguin Lost (Melville House)
Penguin Lost finds Viktor Zolotaryov sneaking back into Kiev under an assumed identity to undertake a dangerous mission: He wants to find Misha, his penguin, whom he fears has fallen into the hands of the criminal mob looking for Viktor himself. Guilt-ridden and determined to do what it takes, Viktor falls in with a Mafia boss who employs him in an election-rigging campaign, in return for introducing Viktor to other mobsters who can help him find Misha. And as Viktor goes from mobster to mobster, trying to survive in Kiev's criminal underground, the evidence mounts that Misha may be someplace even worse: the zoo of a Chechen warlord. What ensues is for Viktor both a quest and an odyssey of atonement, and for the reader, a stirring mix of the comic and the tragic, the heartbreaking and the inspiring.