Super Sad True Love Story: A Novel [NOOK Book]

Overview

NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK
 
SELECTED ONE OF 10 BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY
MICHIKO KAKUTANI, THE NEW YORK TIMES
 
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY
The Washington Post • The Boston Globe • San Francisco...

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Super Sad True Love Story: A Novel

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Overview

NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK
 
SELECTED ONE OF 10 BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY
MICHIKO KAKUTANI, THE NEW YORK TIMES
 
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY
The Washington Post • The Boston Globe • San Francisco Chronicle • The Seattle Times • O: The Oprah Magazine • Maureen Corrigan, NPR • Salon • Slate • Minneapolis Star Tribune • St. Louis Post-Dispatch • The Kansas City Star • Charlotte Observer • The Globe and Mail • Vancouver Sun • Montreal Gazette • Kirkus Reviews

In the near future, America is crushed by a financial crisis and our patient Chinese creditors may just be ready to foreclose on the whole mess. Then Lenny Abramov, son of an Russian immigrant janitor and ardent fan of “printed, bound media artifacts” (aka books), meets Eunice Park, an impossibly cute Korean American woman with a major in Images and a minor in Assertiveness. Could falling in love redeem a planet falling apart?

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780679603597
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 7/27/2010
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Sales rank: 51,340
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

Gary Shteyngart
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.  


From the Hardcover edition.

Biography

In the hilariously skewed world of Gary Shteyngart, reality and absurdity trot gleefully hand-in-hand. His debut novel, The Russian Debutante's Handbook, finds a Jewish/Soviet ne'er-do-well on a manic search for fortune and fame against the backdrops of New York City and the fictional European city of Prava. Absurdistan, Shteyngart's sophomore effort, ups the level of wackiness. The obese, gluttonous Misha Vainberg devours Western pop culture, lusts after a sultry Latina from the South Bronx, and stumbles into the position of Minister of Multicultural Affairs in the volatile, oil-rich nation of Absurdistan. While Shteyngart's wickedly whimsical prose and searing satire have been almost universally praised, he sees his work not as goofy flights of fancy but as a rather accurate vision of the contemporary global society.

"This is a reality book," Shteyngart declared to The Austinist, "and the reality is that we are becoming Absurdistan with each passing day. Look, you have a government that spies on its own citizens, is basically an oil kleptocracy, the government serves the oil interest, just the way it does in Russia."

Shteyngart's keen insights into world politics, particularly the current climate of America, are what elevate his novels above mere farce. Born in Leningrad, Russia, during the Cold War, but living the majority of his life in New York, the novelist has experienced life in the two contrasting nations that most influence his work. Along the way, he earned a degree in politics from Oberlin College in Ohio. Shteyngart is also a devoted traveler, and a stint in Prague sparked his first book. "I spent too much time in all these different places," he explained. "[W]hen I was in college, I really wanted to go back to Russia and my Mom, who was paying my bills at the time said, ‘Over my dead body, they'll eat you alive there. Look at you. You're a little Jew, they'll kill ya.' And I said ‘Uh, alright.' So I went to Prague with my girlfriend at the time and that became The Russian Debutante's [Handbook]."

The Russian Debutante's Handbook was greeted with a seemingly ceaseless string of laudatory reviews. From Vanity Fair to The New York Times to Book Magazine, Steyngart was regarded as a major new talent with a decidedly unique style. Because his debut was subject to so much acclaim, Steyngart felt that its success negatively affected the response to Absurdistan. "You know it's really interesting there are some people who love the first book...so much that they hate the second book because the tone is so different," he said. Of course, one would never know based on some of the most prominent responses to Absurdistan. The Washington Post celebrated the book's "sharp insights into the absurdity of the modern world," and Publisher's Weekly cheered that Misha Vainberg is a "sympathetic protagonist worthy of comparison to America's enduring literary heroes.'

Not to be deterred by a minority of naysayers, Shteyngart is already hard at work on his third novel, which features the tellingly named character Jerry Shteynfarb from Absurdistan. "[M]y next book [takes place] partly in Albany -- but set in the year 2040, when it's called All-Holy Albany Rensselaer," he told Forward, "and it's a small religious protectorate under the command of a Korean Rev. Cho. My hero, Jerry Shteynfarb, is 65 years old, married to one of Reverend Cho's daughters and trying to eke out a survival. That's going to be the next project."

Good To Know

What would Shteyngart be doing if he wasn't an acclaimed novelist? Well, he says he'd like to be an urban planner. One of his first jobs was as a janitor in a nuclear reactor.

Shteyngart began Absurdistan only a few days before 9/11, and briefly shelved the book after the tragic event.

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    1. Hometown:
      New York, New York
    1. Date of Birth:
      1972
    2. Place of Birth:
      Leningrad, USSR
    1. Education:
      B.A., Oberlin College, 1995

Read an Excerpt

DO NOT GO GENTLE
FROM THE DIARIES OF LENNY ABRAMOV

june 1 
Rome–New York 

Dearest Diary,

 Today I’ve made a major decision: I am never going to die. Others will die around me. They will be nullified. Nothing of their personality will remain. The light switch will be turned off. Their lives, their entirety, will be marked by glossy marble headstones bearing false summations (“her star shone brightly,” “never to be forgotten,” “he liked jazz”), and then these too will be lost in a coastal flood or get hacked to pieces by some genetically modified future- turkey. 

Don’t let them tell you life’s a journey. A journey is when you end up somewhere. When I take the number 6 train to see my social worker, that’s a journey. When I beg the pilot of this rickety United- ContinentalDeltamerican plane currently trembling its way across the Atlantic to turn around and head straight back to Rome and into Eunice Park’s fickle arms, that’s a journey. 

But wait. There’s more, isn’t there? There’s our legacy. We don’t die because our progeny lives on! The ritual passing of the DNA, Mama’s corkscrew curls, his granddaddy’s lower lip, ah buh- lieve thuh chil’ren ah our future. I’m quoting here from “The Greatest Love of All,” by 1980s pop diva Whitney Houston, track nine of her eponymous first LP. 

Utter nonsense. The children are our future only in the most narrow, transitive sense. They are our future until they too perish. The song’s next line, “Teach them well and let them lead the way,” encourages an adult’s relinquishing of selfhood in favor of future generations. The phrase “I live for my kids,” for example, is tantamount to admitting that one will be dead shortly and that one’s life, for all practical purposes, is already over. “I’m gradually dying for my kids” would be more accurate. 

But what ah our chil’ren? Lovely and fresh in their youth; blind to mortality; rolling around, Eunice Park–like, in the tall grass with their alabaster legs; fawns, sweet fawns, all of them, gleaming in their dreamy plasticity, at one with the outwardly simple nature of their world. 

And then, a brief almost- century later: drooling on some poor Mexican nursemaid in an Arizona hospice. 

Nullified. Did you know that each peaceful, natural death at age eighty- one is a tragedy without compare? Every day people, individuals— Americans, if that makes it more urgent for you—fall facedown on the battlefield, never to get up again. Never to exist again. 

These are complex personalities, their cerebral cortexes shimmering with floating worlds, universes that would have floored our sheepherding, fig- eating, analog ancestors. These folks are minor deities, vessels of love, life- givers, unsung geniuses, gods of the forge getting up at six- fifteen in the morning to fire up the coffeemaker, mouthing silent prayers that they will live to see the next day and the one after that and then Sarah’s graduation and then . . . 

Nullified. 


But not me, dear diary. Lucky diary. Undeserving diary. From this day forward you will travel on the greatest adventure yet undertaken by a nervous, average man sixty- nine inches in height, 160 pounds in heft, with a slightly dangerous body mass index of 23.9. Why “from this day forward”? Because yesterday I met Eunice Park, and she will sustain me through forever. Take a long look at me, diary. What do you see? A slight man with a gray, sunken battleship of a face, curious wet eyes, a giant gleaming forehead on which a dozen cavemen could have painted something nice, a sickle of a nose perched atop a tiny puckered mouth, and from the back, a growing bald spot whose shape perfectly replicates the great state of Ohio, with its capital city, Columbus, marked by a deep- brown mole. Slight. Slightness is my curse in every sense. A so- so body in a world where only an incredible one will do. A body at the chronological age of thirty- nine already racked with too much LDL cholesterol, too much ACTH hormone, too much of everything that dooms the heart, sunders the liver, explodes all hope. A week ago, before Eunice gave me reason to live, you wouldn’t have noticed me, diary. A week ago, I did not exist. A week ago, at a restaurant in Turin, I approached a potential client, a classically attractive High Net Worth Individual. He looked up from his wintry bollito misto, looked right past me, looked back down at the boiled lovemaking of his seven meats and seven vegetable sauces, looked back up, looked right past me again—it is clear that for a member of upper society to even remotely notice me I must first fire a flaming arrow into a dancing moose or be kicked in the testicles by a head of state. 

And yet Lenny Abramov, your humble diarist, your small nonentity, will live forever. The technology is almost here. As the Life Lovers Outreach Coordinator (Grade G) of the Post- Human Services division of the Staatling- Wapachung Corporation, I will be the first to partake of it. I just have to be good and I have to believe in myself. I just have to stay off the trans fats and the hooch. I just have to drink plenty of green tea and alkalinized water and submit my genome to the right people. I will need to re- grow my melting liver, replace the entire circulatory system with “smart blood,” and find someplace safe and warm (but not too warm) to while away the angry seasons and the holocausts. And when the earth expires, as it surely must, I will leave it for a new earth, greener still but with fewer allergens; and in the flowering of my own intelligence some 1032 years hence, when our universe decides to fold in on itself, my personality will jump through a black hole and surf into a dimension of unthinkable wonders, where the things that sustained me on Earth 1.0—tortelli lucchese, pistachio ice cream, the early works of the Velvet Underground, smooth, tanned skin pulled over the soft Baroque architecture of twentysomething buttocks—will seem as laughable and infantile as building blocks, baby formula, a game of 

“Simon says do this.” 

That’s right: I am never going to die, caro diario. Never, never, never, never. And you can go to hell for doubting me. 

From the Hardcover edition.

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Reading Group Guide

1.     What elements of Shteyngart’s dystopian near-future do you see in our contemporary world?

2.      In that same vein, do you feel that we really are in, or are headed for, a post-literate age? Have a media-saturated environment and short attention spans affected our ability to read and appreciate books?

3.      Lenny and Eunice come from two opposing cultures and have different ethnic backgrounds. While he is a ruminative book reader, hers is the generation of the instant and fleeting. For all their differences, why do you think Lenny and Eunice are drawn together? What do they share in common in terms of their personal history?

4.      After a trip home to Long Island, Lenny contemplates an existence that is “at the end of the busted rainbow, at the end of the day, at the end of the empire.” What does he mean by this? Do you feel that we are at the end of an era?  

5.      Lenny’s employer, Post Human Services, offers the promise of life extension for High Net Worth individuals. How do you think losing the assurance of death, a great equalizer, would affect the dynamic of society? If you had the option, would you seek out immortality?

6.      Super Sad True Love Story is an epistolary novel—one written as a series of documents. Discuss the how Shteyngart’s use of diary entries and digital exchanges impacted your reading experience.

7.      One target of Shteyngart’s satire is the value placed on youthfulness. Discuss how this preoccupation manifests itself in the novel—consider Eunice’s relationship with Lenny and Joshie, The Post Human Services, and representations of the elderly.

8.      Lenny has been described as a twentieth century man in a twenty-first century world. How, specifically, is he anachronistic to the “new” New York?

9.      Shteyngart includes elements of science fiction, romance, and dystopian fantasy.  How do you think each of these genres manifests itself in the novel?  Why is each important? 

10.  Super Sad True Love Story treads into dark territory—mortality, heartbreak, the demise of a culture—yet, as a satire, it relies heavily on humor for its social criticism. In your opinion, how important is humor in evaluating and responding to the world in which we live? 

11.  Though Super Sad True Love Story  is set in the (very near) future, there is a strong immigrant presence that also harkens back to the American past.  Discuss the portrayal and significance of immigrants in the novel.

12.  In the Super Sad universe, there is no such thing as a private detail. In our world, what do you feel are the benefits and pitfalls of social media? Where should we draw the line in terms of what we broadcast about our personal lives?

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 331 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(86)

4 Star

(87)

3 Star

(79)

2 Star

(52)

1 Star

(27)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 333 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 7, 2012

    It made me sad

    It really did make me sad but not the way you would think. This is not your typical love story an i dont think it has very many happy endings. The picture of the world it creates is so realistic and so depressing, you cant help but go into a bit of self reflection once you're through.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 7, 2012

    It is super sad, but super powerful too. An amazing picture of a

    It is super sad, but super powerful too. An amazing picture of a world that we could easily slide into (maybe we have already) and what it could do to us. I have to say I liked Absurdistan better, but when you write something that good, it's okay to not quite reach that height every time. Shteyngart might just be the best novelist writing today.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 8, 2011

    Another Shteyngart Success!

    Author Gary Shteyngart is adept at creating worlds with an absurd tilt -drawing the reader into an extrapolated vision of the near future which somehow manages to be simultaneously laugh out loud funny as well as a disturbing, dark indictment of the direction in which our culture is headed.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 3, 2012

    Good

    Good

    2 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 15, 2012

    It will be true, and that's what's truly sad.

    It will be true, and that's what's truly sad.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 28, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    It made me super sad to read it

    because I super hated it! I did not find the book even remotely funny. The characters were completely unlikeable and if this is satire, I will give up on the entire genre. Nope, not for me. I was painful to finish but I did it as it was a book club selection.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 24, 2012

    Super sad true love story

    Best book ive ever read

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 18, 2012

    Amandas history

    Amanda grew up in a slave mill wich is like a puppy mill where they raise slaves then sell them she watched her mother be killed for trying to escape she was a hsppy child but when she aged ten she was auctioned off she grew up taught by the whip her last master was cruel and when he ws gone he would put a collar around her neck and tie her up like a dog with chains she grew up learning several phrases the cheeriness was whipped from her long ago

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 28, 2012

    Terrible

    Could not even finish this. Started out skeptical and gave it a try since it was a book club choice. It is very rare that I don't finish a book even if its not that good. This was with no redeeming quality and I stopped after about 100 pages

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 4, 2012

    Really witty look at what is and what might be

    Scary look at the people we've become and the path we're on. It's well, super sad, but morbidly funny.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 11, 2011

    Recommended

    I read a lot of reviews before buying this book and wasn't entirely sure what to expect. I enjoyed it, but understand why some people wouldn't. The love story is not what you'd expect, and the characters aren't the most developed or likable, but everything in the background to this story is what makes it different and enjoyable. This view of America is interesting, believable and somewhat frightening. But in the end I really enjoyed the book and would recommend reading it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 14, 2011

    Clever

    Really quite good. A very scary peek into what could be in our not so distant future. Still thinking about it months after reading. Very cool. Frightening in its potential realness.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 3, 2014

    Guess

    I guess i havent but it looks good -advice giver

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 10, 2014

    Heyy i need some advice

    Heyy i havent read the book yet should i read it, is it worth it?

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 23, 2013

    Angelkit

    Cries and curls up sadly.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 18, 2013

    Eerily honest

    This is an uncomfortable read and the book is as uncharming as the future it reflects—yet the honesty and accuracy are undeniable. Fascinating, frustrating and sad. This is a reluctantly worthwhile read.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 13, 2013

    Not Great

    Not entirely pleased with this novel, especially after reading so many positive reviews. The main problem for me was that the main character was annoying in his self pity and naivete.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 22, 2013

    From angel

    Can someone lend this to me?

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 5, 2013

    CAT TO IMARI

    Bye ill miss u forever ill try to be on but ill probally be on once a week but im going to college all the way in london my home town looz ill miss u soooo much tell caitlin i said bye ok by daughter :)( (thats a happy and sad face at the same time) lolz ill miss u sooooooooo much wish me luck for college and if u ask what im gonna do with the baby well hes gonna be with my sister while im at college BYE IMARI I LOVE U FOR EVAS

    0 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 29, 2013

    Serena

    Ok. Bye b her later or tomorrow

    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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