The Golden Calf: A Novel

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Ostap Bender, the "grand strategist," is a con man on the make in the Soviet Union during the New Economic Policy (NEP) period. He’s obsessed with getting one last big score—a few hundred thousand will do—and heading for Rio de Janeiro, where there are "a million and a half people, all of them wearing white pants, without exception."

The Golden Calf: A Novel

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  • The Golden Calf: A Novel


When Bender hears the story of Alexandr Koreiko, an "undercover millionaire"—no Soviet citizen was allowed to openly hoard so much capital—the chase is on. Koreiko has made his millions by taking advantage of the wide-spread corruption and utter chaos of the NEP, all while serving quietly as an accountant at a government office and living on 46 rubles a month. He's just waiting for the Soviet regime to collapse so he can make use of his stash, which he keeps hidden away in a suitcase. Teaming up with two petty criminals and a hopelessly naive driver, Bender leads his merry band of mischief makers on a raucously hilarious jaunt across the "wild west" of the early Soviet Union. One of the true classics of Russian literature, this new translation of The Golden Calf—the first complete translation of the novel—restores the absurd, manic energy of the original and reaffirms the judgment of the Soviet censors, who said: "You have a very nice hero, Ostap Bender. But really, he's just a son of a bitch."

Additional Information

Author Ilya Ilf / Evgeny Petrov
Publisher Open Letter Books
Page Count 315pp
Publication Size 5.5 x 8.5
Publication Notes softcover
Publication Date December 15, 2009
ISBN 978-1934824078

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