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Absurdistan: A Novel Hardcover – May 2, 2006
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Top Customer Reviews
The book follows the misguided adventures of an overweight, Russian secular Jew who studied at a small liberal arts college in the United States. In doing so, Shteyngart manages to mock being overweight, Russian, Jewish, non-Jewish, secular, American and liberal arts educations circa 1990 (great fun if you went to one of those schools around that time). In other words, Shteyngart shows all of us to be worthy of some mockery. At the same time, however, the inherent good points of everything Shteyngart mocks show through quite clearly.
Our anti-hero takes us through St. Petersburg, New York (through flashbacks and imagination) and a fictitous country that was a former republic of the USSR. The result is really rather good and often very funny.
If you like "Confederacy of Dunces," anything by Vonnegut, or generally consider yourself to be a hopeful cynic - you're going to like this book. Even as Absurdistan pokes fun at everything in its path, it also brings out the redeming qualities of each of its targets.
Political instability, however, overtakes the tiny country and a most absurd civil war breaks out in a way that reminds me of Peter Sellers' first film about the Duchy of Grand Fenwick, "The Mouse That Roared". Mired in corruption where billions in petro-dollars are at stake, Misha is appointed the minister of multicultural affairs. Whether fighting for his life or discovering new love with the daughter of a local warlord, he finds he cannot escape his Russian past with ease. Shteyngart's unique gift is painting a panorama rich in cultural observations and personal chaos. The author also does not shy away from politically incorrect stereotypes because he shows them through Misha's jaundiced perspective of entitlement.Read more ›
Absurdistan traces the life, loves and misadventures of one Misha Vainberg. Misha is the 1,238th-richest man in Russia. He is a man of immense proportions (Shteyngart has a number of amusing ways to describe how various parts of his body quiver) and appetites. When he eats his intake of food is enormous and the process of mass ingestion is treated by Misha with something akin to an orgiastic spiritual exercise.
Misha was raised in Leningrad, now known as St. Petersburg. His father was a minor-league Jewish dissident whose chief claim to fame was relieving himself on the dog of an officious Soviet bureaucrat. After the fall of the USSR, Papa rose to wealth and fame by becoming a successful criminal in the "new Russia". Educated in the U.S. at the prestigious liberal-arts Accidental College where he is known as "snack daddy" to his friends, Misha finds his way to New York where he falls in love with Rouenna, a sultry young lady from the South Bronx (think J-Lo but with a bigger trunk). Life falls apart for Misha after his father kills an American competitor.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
a real mic-drop of a book in that it takes no shortcuts, is in no way meek or incomplete. it is funny, yes, very funny. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Hilal Isler
Annoyingly self referential (there's a character called Jerry Shteynfarb). No plot, and only occasional glimpses of the lyrical prose Shteyngart is capable of. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Mark Rosen
I thought that the premise for this novel might lead to an amusing political satire, especially since it promised to climax on 9/11. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Geoff, OR
Gary Shteyngart has such a wonderful way of capturing the profound absurdity of the situation. Clever and surprising wordplay make every sentence seem crafted.Published 10 months ago by B. Nash