The author of two critically acclaimed novels, The Russian Debutante’s Handbook and Absurdistan, Gary Shteyngart has risen to the top of the fiction world. Now, in his hilarious and heartfelt new novel, he envisions a deliciously dark tale of America’s dysfunctional coming years—and the timeless and tender feelings that just might bring us back from the brink.
In a very near future—oh, let’s say next Tuesday—a functionally illiterate America is about to collapse. But don’t that tell that to poor Lenny Abramov, the thirty-nine-year-old son of an angry Russian immigrant janitor, proud author of what may well be the world’s last diary, and less-proud owner of a bald spot shaped like the great state of Ohio. Despite his job at an outfit called Post-Human Services, which attempts to provide immortality for its super-rich clientele, death is clearly stalking this cholesterol-rich morsel of a man. And why shouldn’t it? Lenny’s from a different century—he totally loves books (or “printed, bound media artifacts,” as they’re now known), even though most of his peers find them smelly and annoying. But even more than books, Lenny loves Eunice Park, an impossibly cute and impossibly cruel twenty-four-year-old Korean American woman who just graduated from Elderbird College with a major in Images and a minor in Assertiveness.
After meeting Lenny on an extended Roman holiday, blistering Eunice puts that Assertiveness minor to work, teaching our “ancient dork” effective new ways to brush his teeth and making him buy a cottony nonflammable wardrobe. But America proves less flame-resistant than Lenny’s new threads. The country is crushed by a credit crisis, riots break out in New York’s Central Park, the city’s streets are lined with National Guard tanks on every corner, the dollar is so over, and our patient Chinese creditors may just be ready to foreclose on the whole mess. Undeterred, Lenny vows to love both Eunice and his homeland. He’s going to convince his fickle new love that in a time without standards or stability, in a world where single people can determine a dating prospect’s “hotness” and “sustainability” with the click of a button, in a society where the privileged may live forever but the unfortunate will die all too soon, there is still value in being a real human being.
Wildly funny, rich, and humane, Super Sad True Love Story is a knockout novel by a young master, a book in which falling in love just may redeem a planet falling apart.
Amazon Best of the Month, August 2010: Welcome to the day after tomorrow. In Gary Shteyngart's near-future New York, the dollar has been pegged to the yuan, the American Restoration Authority is on high security alert, and Lenny Abramov, the middle-aged possessor of a decent credit score but an absurdly low--and embarrassingly public--Male Hotness rating, is in love with the young Eunice Park. Like many of the clients of his employer, the Post-Human Services division of the Staatling-Wapachung Corporation, he'd also like to live forever, but all he really wants is to love Eunice. And for a time, despite the traditional challenges of their gaps in age and ethnicity and the more modern hurdle of an oppressively networked culture that makes your most private identity as transparent as the Onionskin jeans that are all the rage, he does. Super Sad True Love Story is as corrosively hilarious as you'd expect from the satirist of Absurdistan and The Russian Debutante's Handbook, but what may surprise you are the moments when the satire hits bedrock and the story becomes--no air quotes required--sad, true, and very much a love story. --Tom Nissley