It is a long fateful story of how I came to read this book, but I am glad I did. It is one of the best books I have ever read. Some criticize the way the ending was done, but the end is not really the point. It is the ride on the way that is the point. There are so many layers to the story; it is dark, light, political and comedic all at the same time.The authors fill the story with such interesting characters,and weave their fates together in ways that are both ingenious and hilarious. Although some readers like myself may not catch all the underlying political themes,I think there's humour and wit to tickle every part of anybody's brain. From satire to good old slapstick it's all there.(I laughed my head off in a crowded subway car while reading this book!) In many ways the story is quite universal. I think everybody knows an Ostap Bender (one of the main characters.) The commentator to the edition I bought suggests that if more North Americans read this book,they would understand Russians better and realize how much they are stereotyped by Westerners. I do not purport to understand the "enigmatic Russian soul�h however, from my limited experience, I must agree with the commentator; there seems to be a deeply funny and intelligent sense of humour that resides in their hearts and this book really shows it.