Absurdistan by Gary Shteyngart - review by Matt Thorne

Matt Thorne

Snack Daddy

Absurdistan

By

Granta Books 352pp £10.99 order from our bookshop
 

Leningrad-born Gary Shteyngart came to America aged seven and now lives in New York. The cultural differences between Russia and America are the main source of humour in Absurdistan, Shteyngart’s second novel. For Misha Vainburg, New York represents all that is great in the world, a heaven to which he cannot return because his gangster father has killed an Oklahoma businessman named Roger Daltrey (no relation to the frontman of The Who, although the name is used as a source of humour).

Misha Vainburg is a fat man nicknamed ‘Snack Daddy’. His penis has become a mutilated mess after his father arranged for him to be circumcised at eighteen upon first arriving in America to study at ‘Accidental College, USA’. He considers himself a typical protagonist of Russian literature, suggesting that although

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