Absurdistan: A Novel [Gary Shteyngart] on *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. “ Absurdistan is not just a hilarious novel, but a record of a. ABSURDISTAN. From the critically acclaimed, bestselling author of The Russian Debutante’s Handbook comes the uproarious and poignant story of one very fat. ABSURDISTAN. By Gary Shteyngart. pp. Random House. $ Why praise it first? Just quote from it — at random. Just unbutton its shirt.
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This is a satire, an irrepressible, fiery and hilarious one, but it’s also surprisingly sensuous. Most satires exist in the brain and the gall. Absurdistan adds a stomach and a libido. You will feel fondled by the time you finish but you’ll also feel well-fed. Misha lives in St Petersburg and is the son of the “1,th richest man in Russia”, which nevertheless gives him an almost unlimited bank account. Misha spent nine years in the US, attending Accidental College before moving to Manhattan and falling in love with his “giant multicultural swallow” of a girlfriend Rouenna, who’s black but also “half Puerto Rican.
And half Mexican and Irish”. US immigration won’t let shteyngarh the son of a murderer, so Misha – “an American cruelly trapped in a foreigner’s body” – is stuck waiting for the impasse to end. But then Beloved Papa is assassinated, and in this new wild west Russia not only do the assassins – Oleg the Moose and his syphilitic cousin Zhora – invite themselves to the funeral, they tell Misha: Somehow this leads Misha to the small, oil-rich, former Soviet Republic of Absurdsvani.
There, for reasons too complicated to shhteyngart, Misha can purchase a Belgian passport “I considered all the things I wanted to know about Belgium. There weren’t many” and at least enter the EU.
Absurd person singular
No sooner has he spilt vodka on his new passport for luck, bary, than a civil war breaks out between the Svani and the Sevo, Absurdsvani’s two ethnic groups, divided forever in a religious schism over whether Christ’s footrest on the cross leant to the right or to the left. Not even brand-new Belgians can leave the country.
Misha, with his great girth, huge appetites, and cash-rich wallet, soon finds himself a main player on the Sevo side, even being promoted to Minister for Multiculturalism – after explaining to the Sevo what multiculturalism actually is – and wooing Nana, the American-educated daughter of the Sevo warlord.
But there’s something about the war that isn’t quite right.
ABSURDISTAN by Gary Shteyngart | Kirkus Reviews
Could it have to do with the local American defence contractors, who the Absurdsvani prostitutes refer to as “Golly Burton”? Where can “a sophisticate and melancholic” like Misha turn when all seems lost? Shteyngart is one of Granta’s new Best Young American Novelists and yes, now published by Granta Books, but more than good hary to evade any question of favouritism.
absuurdistan He’s a Jewish Russian who emigrated to America at the age of seven, and he is merciless to his own religion and nationalities. He’s also – in his portrayal of the vicious, rampant capitalism stripping the life out of Putin’s Russia and of the band-aid of multiculturalism on the gaping wound of sectarianism – unflinching in the face of the unbridled greed that might very well be the death of us all.
Here, his concerns are the same: In spirit and goal, Shteyngart evokes and indeed namechecks Joseph Heller and Evelyn Waugh and more than bears the comparison. Absurdistan’s closest spiritual brother, however, is John Kennedy Toole’s A Confederacy of Dunces, with its over-sized, flatulent hero Ignatius J Reilly, whose incompetence at handling modern life is matched only by his supreme unawareness of that incompetence.
Misha is an endless body of need with “enormous flounder lips cleansed hourly by vodka” and a severely scarred “khui” resulting from a botched, late-in-life circumcision, including a patch that is “a vivid evocation of the bombing of Dresden”. All of which could have been unbearable had Shteyngart not given him a voice so rich and exuberantly funny. Of gold-digging relatives at his father’s funeral, he tells us: During the thirties and forties, Stalin had killed half my family.
Arguably the wrong half. Shteyngart’s writing is so consistently good, in fact, that it’s hard to resist the temptation to quote it at length. One of Misha’s misguided projects is “Misha’s Children”, basically throwing money at as many hopeless orphans as he can find, including a group he sees waiting to cross the road in St Petersburg:.
But even with my largesse, I could see nothing positive befalling them. A temporary respite from alcoholism, harlotry, heart disease and depression. It would make more sense to have sex with their teacher and buy her a refrigerator.
Although the book remains surprisingly upbeat, it is to Shteyngart’s eternal credit that he absurdidtan to look away when things get absurdistaj ugly. There are darker hints lurking in Misha’s descriptions of his father, and the insulation from the world that his fat provides might also be a layer of protection for a far more personal hurt, the hurt of a body that’s been violated.
Near the end of the novel, Misha has a spectacularly unpleasant encounter with a Sevo refugee and her young daughter.
The mother, almost automatically, offers her child to Misha for sex in exchange for protection. Misha’s reaction is shockingly violent and Shteyngart sucker-punches us with a perfectly timed reminder that, laugh though we may, the world is really like this, absurdistaan into pieces, running out of resources, and that now that there is nothing left to pillage, we have no choice but to eat ourselves.
In fact, as with all gry the very best satires, it’s only a matter of time, maybe even months, maybe even days, before we won’t be able to regard this as a satire at all. One of Misha’s misguided projects is “Misha’s Children”, basically throwing money at as many hopeless orphans as he can find, including a group he sees waiting to cross abssurdistan road in St Petersburg: Fiction Patrick Ness Gary Shteyngart reviews.