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Absurdistan: A Novel by Gary Shteyngart
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Absurdistan: A Novel (edition 2006)

by Gary Shteyngart

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1,830673,816 (3.3)71
Member:gracefulspoon
Title:Absurdistan: A Novel
Authors:Gary Shteyngart
Info:Random House (2006), Hardcover, 352 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:
Tags:fiction, russia

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Absurdistan by Gary Shteyngart

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Showing 1-5 of 65 (next | show all)
Shteyngart had the talent to write a better book, perhaps a very good book (maybe he has done?), but the Americans in this are all wrong, the pastiche tone-deaf as opposed to knowing, especially the poor ones, and the Russians seem pretty sleazy-huckstery-stillweirdlyinnocenty-right, but after the Americans you kind of wonder, and the insistent proactivity with which Shteyngart manages his own rep, cynically knowing that if you write yourself as a fake and a buffoon that it'll charm all the NYC and MFA types who might otherwise hold themselves aloof from the claims of a fresh post-Soviet-global-migrant "the Warsaw Pact writes back" voice that you're selling, that is to say, just flogging PR hackery on a larger scale Shteyngart. And the Central Asians are just bogstandard sheepfuckery really. There are moments of stagy poignancy and I got pretty interested in the big fat sad rich just-wanna-be-loved-if-I-weren't-like-a-mansized-cyst-full-of-everything-that's-wrong-with-the-world-2006 main dude's relationship with his dad. He wanted cuddles from his dead dad and to be told he was pretty so much and a lot would have to go weird before most aspects of my situation with my new son would resemble Boris and Misha Vainberg's but let me tell you though sir that at least my boy will never lack for cuddles and blandishments and I hope he stays a mild to moderate daddy's boy for life and never either trundles idiotically through a gross fake Baudrillardian war like childlike Misha or strikes out on his own and turns into a self-made semi-fraud like how Shteyngart comes across a few too many times here. ( )
1 vote MeditationesMartini | Apr 24, 2014 |
This book fell way short of my expectations after Super Sad True Love Story and Little Failure. Absurdistan protagonist, Misha Vainberg, is a rich, grotesquely obese Russian I found totally unlikeable. It follows the familiar ugly man only sleeps with beautiful women trope. Sure Rouenna his Latina lover from the Bronx is after his money, but she seems to genuinely like him too for no apparent reason. His later lover Nana Nanabragovna doesn't need his money, so I guess were supposed to believe she using him for political reasons. Whatever. The female characters are one-dimensional sex toys for the most part. Is it too much to ask for some character development in a political satire? I don't think so. I think Shteyngart is up to the task of a complex, humorous, political novel with real characters.

Then there's Absurdistan. I fail to understand why I'm supposed to care about this make-believe country's ludicrous politics. It turns out it's all about oil money and post-war contracting money. Blow 'em up so we have to rebuild 'em. And corruption. Everyone is corrupt. But Misha is such a moral relativist he hardly seems to care.

So why did I give it even three stars? Well it reads like stand-up comedy sometimes. Shteyngart is really funny. He's like Mr. one-liner. There's some parts about the Jews that are hilarious. To paraphrase since I don't have my copy handy: they polled 30 Jews in a bar in Maryland for name recognition of these basic Jewish concepts: Torah, Mikvah, Talmud, Holocaust, Whitefish, Kabbalah. Only Whitefish scored higher than Holocaust. Proving that a Holocaust museum in Absurdistan would be wildly popular. I'm probably telling it badly, but Shteyngart is funny. I did make it through the whole book despite being sometimes disgusted by Misha and his lovers and sometimes bored by the politics. ( )
  kylekatz | Dec 18, 2013 |
Hilarious until it flags out near the end. ( )
  Periodista | Jul 7, 2013 |
i really like you gary shteyngart, but that was sort of excruciating.
( )
  DawsonOakes | Apr 10, 2013 |
A great book. One of the funniest and strangest and most difficult narrators I've read. Great settings. Interesting characters. Funny, ironic writing. Pathos. Relevance. Subversiveness. ( )
  malrubius | Apr 2, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 65 (next | show all)
Like a victorious wrestler, this novel is so immodestly vigorous, so burstingly sure of its barbaric excellence, that simply by breathing, sweating and standing upright it exalts itself.
 
In the end Misha gives new meaning to that archetype of Russian literature — the "superfluous man" — while Mr. Shteyngart's novel manages to seem equally beside the point.
 

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Johnson, ArteNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0812971671, Paperback)

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.


From the Hardcover edition.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:27:35 -0400)

Hoping to get out of Russia and return to his adopted home in the U.S., Misha Vainberg, the obese son of a wealthy Russian, makes his way to Absurdsvani, a small unstable country on the brink of civil war.

(summary from another edition)

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