I do not even know where to begin with the plot description. Satan and his retinue came to Stalinist Moscow and began wreaking havoc among the bureaucracy of the regime. A nameless writer known to us only as The Master writes a novel about Jesus' last days before Crucifixion - we actually get to read this novel which takes up practically one half of the book length. Margarita, the heroine of the book loves The Master, but there are obstacles between them. It all sounds disjoint, but this is the best I can do. This classic book is way above my writing abilities.
The only reason I placed this book on my humor shelf is that there are not too many other books on that particular shelf. There are some very funny moments in the book, but there are some very sad ones as well. This might also be qualified as an urban fantasy. It is also a love story. It is a horror novel. It is a satire, and it took real guts to write satire of modern life under Stalin. It is... you got the idea.
The character cast is brilliant. The best one is Behemoth: a vodka-drinking giant black cat full of mischief. I am sure this guy has got to be the most interesting and colorful cat in the world literature, his escapades with Koroviev near the end made me laugh until my jaws hurt. Satan himself - Behemoth and Koroviev are his guys - looks very sinister even if he takes more lay-back approach while his not-quite-human companions run wild. Margarita herself is the great character and a strong woman in her own way. Yeshua (Jesus) and Pilate from The Master's book also need to be mentioned. I can go on and on - even the minor characters are interesting.
Regarding different translations: this is one of the few books which a translation can make or break. Imagine trying to translate [b:Alice in Wonderland|13023|Alice in Wonderland (Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, #1)|Lewis Carroll|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1166512952s/13023.jpg|2933712] into different languages: I actually read some, and they were like completely different books. In this case unless you can read it in the original language, the general consensus seems to be that Mirra Ginsburg is the best bet.
This book deserves 5 solid stars and more. If you have not read it, my advice: Do. It. Now.
This review is a copy/paste of my BookLikes one: http://gene.booklikes.com/post/756625/a-book-which-genre-is-impossible-to-define-and-plot-is-impossible-to-describe-in-short-a-true-classic