What would happen if Satan were to alight on a modern metropolis like Moscow and wreak havoc in it? That's just one of the questions asked and answered in this twentieth-century Russian classic, which is said to have been the inspiration for the Rolling Stones song 'Sympathy for the Devil'. Bulgakov's Satan is not necessarily purely evil; he just punishes sceptics and greedy people, and does so in extremely creative ways. He has a lot of personality, and if that weren't enough, he also has a fascinating retinue of demons and zombies who gleefully go about creating their own brand of creative mischief. The result, as you might expect, is an orgy of chaos in which people get killed, scared out of their wits, humiliated and spirited away, usually in fairly inventive ways. It's hard not to admire Bulgakov's imagination in these scenes; he really does come up with some outrageous stuff, and except for the one chapter in which one of the main characters flies over Moscow on a broomstick, you'll buy it… even the gun-toting cat who cannot be killed. That's how good his writing is.The prose flows kineticly, bouncing the reader from the time of Pontius Pilate to 20th century Moscow to a ball in honour of Satan and back again, all the while paying extreme attention to the tiniest minutiae of any one character's actions. Not suprisingly then, it manages to convey well the sense of chaos that descends on Moscow when a quad of ostensible black magicians come to town. The translated text conjures in my mind imagery somewhere Franz Kafka and Belleville Rendezvous although this can't have been the authors intention for reasons of terminus ante quem! Whether there are political undertones to the book it is hard to tell as I know little of Russia during this period. Stalin, however deemed The Master and Margarita to be subversive and therefore saw fit to ban it and in fact all of Bulgakov's works (to go hand in hand with other 'subversive' works by Shostakovich, Eisenstein, etc). Most of these have now been post-humously published. I would thoroughly recommend you get hold of a copy any which way you can and jump on board for a non-stop fantastical riot.