“Istemi” is a
book of friendship and betrayal. In Kiev, during the
last years of Soviet Union's existence, a group of
students create a game to pass their time. In the
absurd reality of the Soviet life, the KGB takes an
interest in the game and by the bizarre twist of
fate this determines players' destinies. Two decades
later, the protagonist finally learns the truth.
The game of Mahjong entails a universe in which every bone and each combination have their specific symbolic significance. The "Mahjong" novel is being played out by its characters at a table in one of Kiev's cafes. At stake is the fate of Gogol’s manuscript, the third volume of “Dead Souls.” Broken into several parts, the manuscript, lands with various collectors creating competition among them, quickly escalating into warfare. Journalist Yevgeny Lvov, seemingly accidentally becomes a major participant in the search for the manuscript. However, there are no odds for chances in the fate of Yevgeny; every detail is carefully chosen in his path
— the path of a shaman.