"The Sacred Book of the Werewolf" is Russian novelist/satirist Victor Pelevin's take on modern Russian consumerism, Chinese werewolves and the work of the great Russian writer Vladimir Nabokov, among other things.

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“The Sacred Book

of the Werewolf”

by Victor Pelevin

Viking, 335 pp., $25.95

“The Sacred Book of the Werewolf,” the newest novel by Russian writer Victor Pelevin, is fashioned like a set of nested dolls — one genre fitting inside another.

First of all, it’s a supernatural tale of love and money, or, more accurately, love for money — told by an intriguing teenage narrator. A Hu-Li is a beautiful 15-year-old Moscow prostitute and a 2,000-year-old Chinese werefox. She’s a wily, shape-shifting temptress. By waving her tail, she can grant men their deepest, darkest desires while she calmly sits in a chair 10 feet away from their squirming, writhing bodies.

As she says early in the novel during one of her evening assignations:

“It’s hard to get used to this sight. People have muscular spasms, and at such moments the client looks as if he really is lying on an invisible body.”

An ultra-chaste psychic vampiress, A Hu-Li takes life energy, gives away fantasy and keeps her body for herself. When not practicing her hypnotic sex trade, she reads voraciously and has a great love for Russian authors, especially Vladimir Nabokov.

Then one day, A Hu-Li meets Alexander, a handsome FSB (the new KBG) officer and whammo — he knocks her off her game. A mysterious player in Russia’s booming oil business, Alexander may also be the mythic, messianic super-wolf spoken of in Nordic folklore.

Quickly, the couple fall into a supercharged erotic affair that goes way past animal transformation.

Whether he is commenting on supernatural sex, Taoist philosophy or the new Russian consumerism, Pelevin is a satirist with X-ray vision. He sees that the real triumph of global capitalism is not cheaper stuff for everybody and better stuff for a few, but the destruction of the human spirit.

Discursive, irritating, witty, sexy and puzzling, “The Sacred Book of the Werewolf” asks how can we go on in a predatory world like ours. A Hu-Li’s answer is: Transcend it.