Take a walk with Gary Shteyngart in the USA 10 or 15 years down the road. The dollar is pegged to the yuan, and a tyrannical right-wing government is in power. The divide between High Net Worth Individuals and Low is a chasm that cannot be spanned. The country is bogged down in a losing war in Venezuela. Everyone carries an “apparat”—an always-online device that broadcasts to everyone within range its carrier’s Male or Female Hotness as well as health and nutritional benchmarks. It also provides access to intimate correspondence. Not only are there no secrets from the government. There are no secrets among people, either. Even your credit rating hovers brightly in the air above your head when you pass a Credit Pole on the street. Welcome to Gary Shteyngart’s dark vision of the future in a hilarious dystopian satire.
Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart (2010) 353 pages ★★★★★
This is the USA Gary Shteyngart creates to showcase the truly sad love story of Lenny Abramov (Russian-American, age 39, depressive reader of books) and Eunice Park (Korean-American, age 24, anorexic, self-obsessed, and cruel shopaholic like all her friends). The tale of their troubled relationship plays out against the backdrop of a city (New York) and a country in the throes of total collapse. It’s not a pretty picture—but it’s extremely funny.
About the author
Gary Shteyngart was born in 1972 in what was then Leningrad in the Soviet Union. He has lived in New York City since 1979, when his parents emigrated to the USA. He is the author of five novels and a memoir, all of them well received by critics. Super Sad True Love Story is the author’s third novel, and it’s the best of the lot. It follows The Russian Debutante’s Handbook and Absurdistan, both brilliantly satirical. All three are characterized by his masterful way with language and his delicious sense of humor. And this third novel showcase’s Garry Shteyngart’s wickedly dystopian satire. Shteyngart’s two later novels struck me as more serious and less enjoyable.
For further reading
I’ve also reviewed three other books by the author:
- Little Failure: A Memoir (From the gifted novelist Gary Shteyngart, a hilarious memoir)
- Lake Success (Spoiler alert: Gary Shteyngart’s latest novel isn’t hilarious)
- Our Country Friends (Is this the Great American Pandemic Novel?)
For more good reading, check out:
- The ultimate guide to the all-time best science fiction novels
- Great sci-fi novels reviewed: my top 10
- The top 10 dystopian novels reviewed here
You might also check out Top 10 great popular novels reviewed on this site.
And you can always find my most popular reviews, and the most recent ones, plus a guide to this whole site, on the Home Page.