As the title suggests, the third and darkest novel by Gary Shteyngart (Absurdistan, 2006, etc.) skirts the distinction between comedy and tragedy, and between reality and invention. Yet this visionary satire of a collapsing America in a “post-literate age” also collapses the gap between the present and the near future, as a Russian immigrant and his much younger Korean girlfriend settle for an American dream that promises immortality yet settles for technological interconnection (all the better to keep tabs on you) and knee-jerk consumerism. “It could be next Tuesday, it could be five years from now,” says Shteyngart. “Have you noticed that there’s not really any ‘present’ any longer, just a future? Today my iPhone can work as a flashlight and hamburger-finder. Next week my iTampon will serve as a flotation device and wildebeest lasso. There’s just no end to this inventiveness. If only my life was marginally happier than it was before the Internet. But it’s not.” Yet some readers might even find a happy ending amid the cultural apocalypse of Manhattan’s police-state in revolt depicted here. “I believe strongly in tragicomedies,” says Shteyngart about the tone. “You laugh until you die.” Indeed, a viral video the author made with several authors and James Franco caused a small Internet sensation. (First appeared in our BEA/ALA Big Book Guide.)
For a list of all the best fiction books of 2010, click here.
Super Sad True Love Story
Random House / July / 9781400066407 / $26.00
This book was featured in the Kirkus Best of 2010