Absurdistan by Gary Shteyngart (2006)

This is a book, you will love or hate. I had to read one third of it, just to try to figure out, where to place it. I decided on conditional loving. The title of the book is a name play on several "stans" created after the breakup of the Soviet Union. The author tries to make the suggestion in the book, but a new Nabokov the author certainly is NOT. But the description of the new Russia (with the main character's love for all things "gansta" obtained, while a student of the "Accidental College" in the Midwest of US) is quite of an entertainment. While the "ruling class" (meaning local gansters, policians and connected parties) spends its days in alcoholic and narcotics daze, the other half (read the other 99%) quickly degrading into third world living conditions. If the confusion in the society in St. Leninsburg does not faze you, than certainly the great details on Absurdistan will. From the local prostitutes, who are only willing to provide services to Golly Burton (Halliburton) foreign employees (they are all here for the oil only), through the two ethnic groups being killed and killing each other (where the main difference between them seems to be the direction of the lower part of their Orthodox Christian church cross, in the best Swiftian traditions), to the local ruling class living in feudalistic conditions, one may start seeing at the world in a different light. The best bet is owning a foreing passport (preferably US, but EU would also do) allowing the holder to leave at any time (of course local rulers permitting), which are also for sale for a "modest" sum. The last pages of the book still keep up the suspense. Good for a light read.

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