Absurdistan by Gary Shteyngart

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Synopsis

Meet Misha Vainberg, aka Snack Daddy, a 325-pound disaster of a human being, son of the 1,238th-richest man in Russia and proud holder of a degree in multicultural studies from Accidental College, USA. Misha is an American impounded in a Russian's body and the only place he feels at home is New York; he just wants to live in the South Bronx with his 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 (a fictional former Soviet republic), 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.
 

About Gary Shteyngart

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Gary Shteyngart was born in Leningrad, which is now St. Petersburg, Russia, in 1972. He moved to the United States seven years later with is family. He received a bachelor's degree in politics from Oberlin College in Ohio and an MFA in creative writing from City University of New York. His debut novel, The Russian Debutante's Handbook, won the Stephen Crane Award for First Fiction and the National Jewish Book Award for Fiction. His other works include Absurdistan and Super Sad True Love Story. He has taught writing at Hunter College, Columbia University, and Princeton University.
 
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...

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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

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

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

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

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

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

Esquire

"THIS IS A BOOK ABOUT LOVE," the Russian-American writer Gary Shteyngart promises in his new novel, Absurdistan (Random House, $25).

Jun 01 2006 | Read Full Review of Absurdistan

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

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