Fan Fanych, alias “Citizen Etcetera” or Newton Tarkington, an international gangster. A crook who sustains himself by “relieving” the rich of excess funds, Fan Fanych is an iconoclast fighting to retain his individuality in the face of dehumanizing interrogation and imprisonment by Josef Stalin’s Ministerstvo Vnutrennikh Del. Fanych, who is used as a guinea pig in a futuristic computer-designed crime experiment, is convicted of an imaginary crime invented by the computer and then dramatized on film: the rape and murder of Gemma, a kangaroo at the Moscow Zoo. Throughout the narrative of his exploits, from encounters with Stalin and Adolf Hitler to his imprisonment in a Soviet labor camp for the kangaroo murder, Fanych retains his spirit and irreverent wit. A dauntless antihero, Fanych outlives Stalin’s regime with most of his sanity intact, free to enjoy life and to experience love.
Kidalla, a KGB investigator. Kidalla is the voice of the Soviet machine, in charge of the interrogation, trial, and imprisonment of Fan Fanych. Despite Kidalla’s overt irritation over the rebellious nature of his prisoner, the reader may detect a covert bond or mutual respect that builds between this investigator and his criminal subject. Kidalla is tough and ruthless; he stops at nothing, using women, an elderly man, and an innocent kangaroo to ensure the success of the computerized crime project. After the death of Stalin, however, Kidalla...
(The entire section is 617 words.)