Thursday, August 6, 2009

Book Review

In my never ending quest to find and read good fiction I read Gary Shteyngart's Absudistan.  The book purports to be a darkly comic satire of life in the former Soviet republics and how multi-national American companies, like Haliburton, attempt to control the world.

There was much that I liked about the book.  I felt myself drawn to the main character named Misha Vainberg.  Misha is the son of a Russian oligarch who dies early in the novel.  Due to his dad's gangster like activities, Vainberg is unable to live Russia for the U.S., which is a tragedy for Misha.  For Misha loves the U.S. and in particular he loves a certain someone in the U.S.  In an attempt to get to the U.S., Mish tries to get a corrupt embassy official to sell him a Belgium passport.  This attempt lands Misha in the middle of a civil war in the former Soviet Republic of Absurdsvani otherwise known as Absurdistan.

I also enjoyed some of the sly humor in the book.  For example the prostitutes refer to Haliburton as Golly Burton.  Also, Misha's take on American life is often wryly on target.  

However, the book did not draw me fully into the narrative.  There was a sense that I was a little disconnected from the book.  I don't know why that is but it might have something to do with the fact that for a comic narrative the plot sounded to close to accurate.  If you see Absudistan at a used book sale or at your local library then I recommend picking it up.  However, I would not pay full price for the book.

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