Absurdistan by Gary Shteyngart
A Novel

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Synopsis

Absurdistan is not just a hilarious novel, but a record of a particular peak in the history of human folly. No one is more capable of dealing with the transition from the hell of socialism to the hell of capitalism in Eastern Europe than Shteyngart, the great-great grandson of one Nikolai Gogol and the funniest foreigner alive.”
–Aleksandar Hemon

From the critically acclaimed, bestselling author of The Russian Debutante’s Handbook comes the uproarious and poignant story of one very fat man and one very small country
Meet Misha Vainberg, aka Snack Daddy, a 325-pound disaster of a human being, son of the 1,238th-richest man in Russia, proud holder of a degree in multicultural studies from Accidental College, USA (don’t even ask), and patriot of no country save the great City of New York. Poor Misha just wants to live in the South Bronx with his hot Latina girlfriend, but after his gangster father murders an Oklahoma businessman in Russia, all hopes of a U.S. visa are lost.
Salvation lies in the tiny, oil-rich nation of Absurdistan, where a crooked consular officer will sell Misha a Belgian passport. But after a civil war breaks out between two competing ethnic groups and a local warlord installs hapless Misha as minister of multicultural affairs, our hero soon finds himself covered in oil, fighting for his life, falling in love, and trying to figure out if a normal life is still possible in the twenty-first century.
With the enormous success of The Russian Debutante’s Handbook, Gary Shteyngart established himself as a central figure in today’s literary world—“one of the most talented and entertaining writers of his generation,” according to The New York Observer. In Absurdistan, he delivers an even funnier and wiser literary performance. Misha Vainberg is a hero for the new century, a glimmer of humanity in a world of dashed hopes.
 

About Gary Shteyngart

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Gary Shteyngart was born in Leningrad in 1972, and came to the United States seven years later. He is the author of the novels Super Sad True Love Story (2010), Absurdistan (2006) and The Russian Debutante's Handbook (2002). Super Sad True Love Story won the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize and was selected as one of the best books of the year by over 40 news journals and magazines around the world. Absurdistan was chosen as one of the 10 best books of the year by The New York Times Book Review and Time magazine. The Russian Debutante's Handbook won the Stephen Crane Award for First Fiction and the National Jewish Book Award for Fiction. His fiction and essays have appeared in the New Yorker, Granta, Esquire, GQ, The New York Times Magazine, and many other publications. His work has been translated into 26 languages.
 
Published May 2, 2006 by Random House. 352 pages
Genres: Humor & Entertainment, Literature & Fiction, Children's Books, Travel, Political & Social Sciences. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Absurdistan

Kirkus Reviews

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(The sardonic chapter entitled “Why the Sevo and Svanï Don’t Get Along” says it all about the stupidity of ancient grudges.) Shteyngart’s eye for the comic horrors of modern life remains acute: Prostitutes at the Absurdistan Hyatt offer discounts for “Golly Burton,” and the local alleged reformer...

May 09 2006 | Read Full Review of Absurdistan: A Novel

The New York Times

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Misha Vainberg, the fat, melancholic narrator of Gary Shteyngart's second novel, compares himself to some great heroes of Russian literature: to Dostoyevsky's saintly innocent Prince Myshkin and to Oblomov, Goncharov's slothful, self-absorbed landowner, the quintessential "superfluous man," who c...

Apr 25 2006 | Read Full Review of Absurdistan: A Novel

The New York Times

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Misha's Nabokovian nemesis is an émigré poseur with a name resembling Shteyngart's and a novel on his résumé whose title pornographically alludes to Shteyngart's first effort, "The Russian Debutante's Handbook."

Apr 30 2006 | Read Full Review of Absurdistan: A Novel

The Guardian

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Absurdistan by Gary Shteyngart Granta £10.99, pp334 A In his jacket quote, Simon Schama compares Gary Shteyngart's second novel, Absurdistan, with John Kennedy Toole's A Confederacy of Dunces, but it seems far closer to a modern British classic, Money.

Jun 10 2007 | Read Full Review of Absurdistan: A Novel

The Guardian

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Absurdistan by Gary Shteyngart 333pp, Granta, £10.99 "I am Misha Borisovich Vainberg," says the narrator of Gary Shteyngart's brilliant, scathing new novel, "a grossly overweight man with small, deeply set blue eyes, a pretty Jewish beak that brings to mind the most distinguished breed of parrot...

Jun 09 2007 | Read Full Review of Absurdistan: A Novel

BC Books

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The book is a document of Friedman's Middle East education: from a zealous pro-Israeli Jewish teenager in Minnesota to an awestruck journalist in Beirut to a grizzled Middle East observer in Jerusalem.

Jul 07 2008 | Read Full Review of Absurdistan: A Novel

BC Books

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In Absurdistan, Misha is embroiled in a simmering feud between two ethnic groups, the Sevo and the Svanï, who have fought for centuries over which direction Christ’s footrest faced on the cross.

Jul 07 2008 | Read Full Review of Absurdistan: A Novel

The Bookbag

The whole plotting of the book needed a redrawing as well – the great delay in even mentioning Absurdistan, the failure of the plot similarly to flag up what the point of the whole book was designed to be.

Oct 24 2009 | Read Full Review of Absurdistan: A Novel

London Review of Books

Misha is in St Petersburg, prevented from returning to New York because his Russian gangster father has murdered an American businessman.

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Bookmarks Magazine

Walter Kirn Boston Globe 1.5 of 5 Stars "The problem, for Shteyngart, is that all these pieces—Latina girls from the Bronx, melancholy Russian billionaires, rapacious Texas oilmen, and the rest of the enormous cast of characters—while clever on their own merits, add up to a tasteless stew, a...

Aug 29 2007 | Read Full Review of Absurdistan: A Novel

Book Geeks

The corpulent Misha is a wealthy young man, the son the 1,238th richest man in Russia – having been sent to the US for his University education, where he acquired a love of hip hop and New York’s urban culture, as well as the curvy ghetto-chick Rouenna, he is back in Russia at the opening of the ...

Nov 21 2008 | Read Full Review of Absurdistan: A Novel

Project MUSE

Gary Shteyngart's second novel, Absurdistan, has all the ingredients to outdo his hilarious 2002 debut, The Russian Debutante's Handbook.

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The Austinist

While we were originally entertained and sucked in by the pop culture correlatives, we soon found that Absurdistan is a complex and enthralling commentary on the world we live in complete with bureaucratic negligence, corporate corruption, and easily-exploitable ethnic differences.

May 01 2006 | Read Full Review of Absurdistan: A Novel

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