Thursday, May 24, 2007

Absurdistan

Gary Shteyngart, Absurdistan (Randon House, 2006). Ada meets Da Ali G Show. The wicked command of both English prose and American ways owes much to Nabakov, and the unforgiving rage at Soviet injustice and exasperated love for dumbed-down American pop culture are Nabakovian as well. Here hip-hop, or should I say the raunchier precincts of gangsta rap, stands in for everything that is swallowed whole, without regard for consequences, from the West by the East. Misha Vainberg is a modern version of Tolstoy's Pierre Bezukhov, so rich and cosmopolitan that he is the last man to understand that the war, and the country, have been lost. The ghost of Mikhail Bulgakov also haunts these pages, where not only chaos but also phantasmagoria constantly threaten to erupt. In the end the most damning indictment is of the rapine of the former Soviet Republics after the collapse of the USSR; this comic writer has written perhaps the ultimate Halliburton novel.

1 comment:

Kate said...

"The ultimate Halliburton novel" is a perfect ending for your review. Mischa Vainberg