Absurdistan

Absurdistan

by Gary Shteyngart
3.5 26

Paperback(Reprint)

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Overview

Absurdistan by Gary Shteyngart

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780812971675
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 04/03/2007
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 638,616
Product dimensions: 5.18(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.68(d)

About the Author

Gary Shteyngart was born in Leningrad in 1972 and came to the United States seven years later. His debut novel, The Russian Debutante’s Handbook, won the Stephen Crane Award for First Fiction and the National Jewish Book Award for Fiction. It was also named a New York Times Notable Book, a best book of the year by The Washington Post and Entertainment Weekly, and one of the best debuts of the year by The Guardian. His fiction and essays have appeared in The New Yorker, Granta, GQ, Esquire, The New York Times Magazine, and many other publications. He lives in New York.

Hometown:

New York, New York

Date of Birth:

1972

Place of Birth:

Leningrad, USSR

Education:

B.A., Oberlin College, 1995

Customer Reviews

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Absurdistan 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 26 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Working in the Caucasus for 14 years, I found this book to be really familiar and of course, anyone that knows the Caucasus can say all written in this book is possible and even likely to track along side reality of life there. I found it to be very funny in a quirky way and very topical. I liked the writing style very much. Some moments are a little 'TMI' but again that probably made it all the more 'honest in an absurd way'... I have recommended this book to all of my clients and those that have worked with me and love the Caucasus for all of it's quirky good and bad alter universe moments!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I bought this book based on its great write up in the NYTimes, expecting a funny semi-political satire. I may have smiled during a few moments, but most of this book is about a bumbling Russian trust fund kid who I could not relate to, and found both distasteful and annoying. The story itself is weak and not very compelling- this is one of those books where upon reaching the end I was happy it was over as opposed to being disappointed that it had ended so soon.
Guest More than 1 year ago
My teacher recommended this book to me. At first i was a bit reluctant in getting it. Though, at the first chapter it already interested me. Absurdistan is about Misha Borisovitch Vainberg, a russian jew, who lost his father and is trying to find meaning in his life. As befuddled as he was, Misha knew that he had to escape from Russia and move to America. So,before going to America, Misha winds up in a country known as Absurdistan which is remote from the world. During his stay in Absurdistan, Misha experiences bouts of jollity, and anxiety, inundated sexual pleasure, and overwhelming moral lugubrious anguish. However, through all these obstacles that he encountered, he ultimately spawned a new affinity for the Jewish people, and progressively transmogrified into a more philanthropic human being. Gary Shteyngart is a very powerful, comical writer and i would absolutely recommend this book without hesitation to anyone.
PoCoAlaskan More than 1 year ago
Upon first reading, I found the book entertaining and politically insightful. I'm not generally a fan of cruel humor, which this book's treatment of its narrator first seemed. The more I think about it, however, the smarter it becomes and more lovable and tragic Misha becomes. Despite the laughs (which often feel cheap), this book longs for a long-term engagement with questions of identity, intimacy and values in a globalized, consumerist world of perpetual simulacra.
RJAP More than 1 year ago
The story is an epic. Absurdistan is kind of a modern, deconstructed Moby Dick. Everybody is seeking something, like in Gravity's Rainbow. And like Gravity's Rainbow, the world is falling apart in the most disconcerting ways. Misha is, literally, his own white whale, and by finding what he's looking for, he resolves the story beautifully. I read a review here where the reader found the character distasteful and annoying. That's not surprising since the character himself insists he's distasteful, spoiled, effete, parasitic and annoying. But he's not, he's magnificent. I'm sorry that person didn't give the book a chance. It's really worth the trouble.
Tigerpaw70 More than 1 year ago
The book is a strange story about love, the affection for a beloved papa, for the city of New York, for a sweet and poor girl in the Bronx and for the INS (Immigration and Naturalization Service). The story is told by Misha Borisovich Vainberg, aka "Snack Daddy" a grossly overweight man, an in your face secular Jew with a distinguishably parrot beak and above all, the son the 1238th richest man in Russia. While in the US, on a student visa, he has earned a degree in multicultural studies from Accidental College NY and his sole ambition is to immigrate to the USA and live with his hot Latina girlfriend. However it was not meant to be, it was discovered his gangster father had murdered a businessman in Oklahoma, and to make matters worse his visa card was revoked. Misha sees his salvation in the oil-rich nation of Absurdistan where consular officers can be easily bought and will sell him a Belgian passport. With his new identity and help from his friend Alosh-Bob and his manservant Timofey, Misha hopes to circumvent previous hurdles but things do not go as planned and everything turns south.. I am surely not the only one to realize that 338 pages of satire quickly becomes a drag especially if the story doesn't grab you from the start. Maintaining a steady diet of satire and mockery has its limits and is not meant for everyone, Misha's pathetic sex driven and unappealing character reaches a point of over exposure and a turn off. I felt the book to be mostly ridiculous, unbelievable and above all absurd. All this said, it may nevertheless appeal to a certain group with a broader sense of humour.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Wading through `Absurdistan,¿ you will slush by floating logs of banal satire and bobbing accounts of smutt. Perhaps you trudge on, grappling for the 'masterful panoramic descriptions' Walter Kirn promises in his NY Times review, but these glimmering moments in Shteyngart's book are just as brief and extraordinary as the protagonist's flatulence. One would hope that the virtuoso of indulgence that is Misha Vainberg would win the reader over with humorous appeal, or at least some endearing quality...something..., but Shteyengart heavily relies on Misha's disclosure to the reader alone to make him a feasible hero. Midway through and one lewd sexual encounter too many, you'll find yourself drowning in a swamp of predictable stereotypes, convoluted plotlines, and plates of Hyatt buffalo wings. If you can¿t grab hold of the inadequate culturally and socially relative rafts the author dangles over you, then perhaps, as he seems to believe, sultry descriptions of prostitutes¿ backsides and junk food will keep you afloat.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
At times entertaining, but hard to follow.
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ayushi30 More than 1 year ago
Absurdistan tells the tale of one Misha Vainberg, a wealthy Russian who's purpose in life is to move to the United States. He is unable to do so because his father, known as "Beloved Papa" for most of the book, killed a businessman from Oklahoma, and the US government refuses to let Misha into the country because of his father's criminal history. Determined to somehow gain admittance to America, Misha decides to first become a European citizen, a Belgian to be exact, because he believes it will be easier to become an American citizen once he is a citizen of the EU. His quest leads him to Absurdistan, a small country close to Iran, on the Caspian Sea. There he finds out about the ongoing civil war between the country's two factions, the Sevo and the Svani. The main difference between the two groups is the direction in which "Christ's footrest" is placed on the traditional Christian cross. (This will be easier to understand if you actually read the book.) Misha then sets out to help the Sevo and Svani settle their differences and find peace again. I'll have to stop here so as not to give the ending away. Let me start by saying that Absurdistan is one of the most bizarre books I have ever read. The writing is very frank and sharp, but also very funny. The tone is satirical and sarcastic, which threw me off at first, but I began to enjoy it more as I continued reading. The only real complaint I had was the amount of sexual references. In my opinion, there were far too many. I understand that they can sometimes provide comedic relief, but I found myself getting annoyed by them, especially at the beginning of the book, when they seemed to have no relevance. Other than that, this book was very amusing and an entertaining read to say the least. Warning: I would not recommend this book to anyone under the age of 16. It can be very graphic at times and some of the material is rather mature. If you would like to read more of my book reviews, please visit my blog at ayushi30.blogspot.com
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