The Golden Calf by Ilya Ilf and Evgeny Petrov
By E.J. Van Lanen, editor of Open Letter
The Golden Calf follows the adventures of Ostap Bender, the “grand strategist,” a con man on the make in the Soviet Union during the New Economic Policy (NEP) period. Bender is 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.” 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 widespread 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.
Chapter 5, “The Underground Kingdom,” begins to explain how Koreiko came to acquire his millions
READ THE EXCERPT FROM ILYA ILF’S and EVGENY PETROV’S
The Golden Calf published by Open Letter
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