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The time is the twilight of the decrepit Brezhnev regime, the place, the Soviet Socialist Republic of Moldavia: the "Latin periphery of empire." A pensioner seeks justice for his dead wife, crushed by a falling crane--the very symbol of the "construction of socialism"--but comes up against hostility from a cynical system at best indifferent, at worst contemptuous of human life. With a keen, Gogolian eye for the grotesque, often squalid, details of everyday life in the USSR, Iulian Ciocan paints darkly humorous but ...

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