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The Russian Debutante’s Handbook September 28, 2008

Posted by goldblatt in English Department.

Another triumph by Gary Shteyngart.

So delighted was I by Absurdistan that I promptly secured Shteyngart’s first novel, The Russian Debutante’s Handbook, and proceeded to ravish the 456 pages. Delightful. This first novel, winner of the Steven Crane prize, shows a momentous output by Shteyngart and contains the seeds which grew Absurdistan into a tale for our time.

Debutante is set in the retro feel-good land of 1993, where a Russian-Born Slacker (like Misha Vainberg in Absurdistan) seeks the American Dream in New York through drink, women, and quaint adoration of all things American. Also like Misha, his marriage to the US is not perfect and he finds himself instead in an allegorical post-Soviet Eastern European crazyland country. This time, it’s not Absurdistan (read: Turkemenistan? or similar?). No, he’s landed in Prava, which is most certainly meant to read Prague. And let me tell you, Prague in 1993 has never been so well documented/fictionalized.

This novel is a brilliant farce on international diplomacy as well as a gripping touchstone for generation x-ers who want to relive the 90’s (who doesn’t?)

I laughed, I cried, I kvelled, I ate my bagel and raised a glass of vodka to say to Shteyngart: L’Chaim! And also: Mazel Tov.



1. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OS1iMJbnRF0&feature=gp-n-y - January 24, 2014

That iis a vey good tip especially to those new to thee blogosphere.
Simple but very accurate information… Thank
you for sharing this one. A must read article!

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