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The first part of a satirical duology by Ilia Ilf and Eugeny Petrov.

In post-civil war Soviet Russia, a former member of nobility, Ippolit Matveyevich Vorobyaninov, works as a desk clerk, until his mother-in-law reveals on her deathbed that her family jewelry had been hidden from the Bolsheviks in one of the twelve chairs from the family's dining room set. Those chairs, along with all other personal property, had been expropriated by the government after the Russian Revolution. He becomes a treasure hunter, and after the smooth operator and Con Man Ostap Bender forces Kisa ("Kitty", Vorobyaninov's funny childhood nickname, which Bender prefers) to partner with him, they set off to track down the chairs. This ultimately helps Kisa, who doesn't possess Bender's charm and is not as street-smart.

The two "comrades" nearly get the prize at the auction, but because Kisa screwed up and squandered all their cash, the chair set is split up and sold individually. They are not alone in this quest, either: Father Fyodor took advantage of the deathbed confession, and has also set off to recover the fortune. In this search for Mme Petukhova's treasure, he becomes Vorobyaninov's main rival. While in this enterprise Ostap is in his element, Vorobyaninov is not so happy. He's steadily abandoning his principles and losing self-esteem.

The Odd Couple travels across the USSR in search of the McGuffin, going through a number of Adventure Towns, giving the author a chance to satirize a wide section of the USSR populace.

One of the best and most enduring Russian literature works from the Soviet era, and an inexhaustible source of great quotes along with its sequel, The Little Golden Calf.

Mel Brooks directed an adaptation in 1970. Two different Russian adaptations have created a bit of a Broken Base amongst the Russian viewers. The main point of contention is whether Andrei Mironov's interpretation of Bender as less of a Lovable Rogue and more of a Villain Protagonist works.

This book features examples of:

 Bender: That's for the reconstruction of Proval, so it wouldn't fall down.

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