Masterfully translated from its original Russian by award-winning translator Marian Schwartz, Thirst tells the story of 20-year-old Chechen war veteran, Kostya. Maimed beyond recognition by a tank explosion, Kostya spends weeks on end locked inside his apartment, his sole companion the vodka bottles spilling from the refrigerator. But soon Kostya’s comfortable, if dysfunctional, cocoon is torn open when he receives a visit from his army buddies who are mobilized to locate a missing comrade. It is through this search for his missing friend that Kostya is able to find himself.
"Not as good as it could have been."
Russia, 1945: For Petka, a rambunctious 12-year-old boy with dreams too big for his tiny village, the prospect of invasion is dangerously thrilling. He watches the Red Army troops march off to engage the enemy, and wages his own war - against boredom, bullies, and his lot in life as a bastard in a backwoods world. Secretly raising a wolf in his grandmother’s goat barn, happily raising hell with the local troops, stowing away in a shipment of bootleg booze destined for the combat zone, and defying death by the noose, Petka eagerly takes all he can from life.
Mikhail was fired for blowing a deal with the Italians and throwing an unauthorized office party that got him arrested, so he can’t believe his luck when his former boss offers him easy money and the Land Rover of his dreams for the simple job of teaching the boss’s son, teenager Sergei, how to "be a man". Of course, Sergei’s not the Internet-obsessed recluse his father believes, and Mikhail can’t help but fall for Sergei’s beautiful secret girlfriend, Marina, himself. Mikhail finds himself lying to his boss about Sergei’s activities, lying to Marina about Sergei’s identity, and lying to Sergei about his love for Marina.
A Jewish teenager on the hunt for black-market tight pants and rock records, Svyatoslav somehow fails to develop his undying love for Lyuba into a happy ending. He finds work in a mental institution, runs off to Kiev with one of the patients, marries a few times, has a son, becomes a professor, and halfheartedly runs interference for the KGB.