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Extended Audio Sample Absurdistan, by Gary Shteyngart Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (8,000 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Gary Shteyngart Narrator: Adam Grupper Publisher: Recorded Books, LLC Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: May 2006 ISBN: 9781461804055
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After returning to Russia to attend his father’s funeral, thirty-year-old Misha is subsequently denied a visa when he attempts to reenter the United States. What follows is a series of misadventures through the Eastern Bloc in which Misha runs afoul of crooked politicians, businessmen, and bureaucracies all seemingly determined to keep him from his new home country.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “This novel is so immodestly vigorous, so burstingly sure of its barbaric excellence, that simply by breathing, sweating, and standing upright it exalts itself…Compared with most young novelists his age, who tend toward cutesy involution, Shteyngart is a giant mounted on horseback. He ranges more widely, sees more sweepingly, and gets where he’s going with far more aplomb.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “The exuberance of Shteyngart’s language keeps us engaged.” 

    Washington Post

  • “Gary Shteyngart’s hilarious, virtuosic Absurdistan nails the tragicomedy of foreign relations…A satire that is profoundly funny, genuinely moving, and wholly lovable.”

    Time

  • “One of the funniest books in recent memory…Read Absurdistan for Shteyngart’s exuberant, wise, hilarious voice…The novel is a long, funny, heartbreaking lament for home, whatever that means, and wherever that might be.”

    Los Angeles Times Book Review

  • “By turns tender, pathetic, and hilarious…There is no one better [than Shteyngart] at skewering social systems.”

    Wall Street Journal

  • “In his hilarious follow-up to The Russian Debutante’s Handbook, Shteyngart proves himself to be the post-Soviet era’s own Joseph Heller.”

    Salon.com

  • “[Shteyngart is] obscenely gifted…[His] prose never fails to pop, and nothing escapes his satiric eye.”

    Entertainment Weekly

  • “The first truly effective satire of the twenty-first century—one that hits the right cultural and political chords without coming off as sanctimonious or pedantic…This strange hybrid of comedy and violence is the only appropriate response to the global shitstorm it’s meant to mirror.”

    New York Observer

  • “Shteyngart is writing some of the funniest lines in contemporary fiction and seems capable of doing so almost effortlessly.”

    Miami Herald

  • “Masterful…[Shteyngart] brilliantly—and with high style—treads the knife-thin line between satire and despair.”

    Cleveland Plain Dealer

  • Absurdistan is a brilliant, fast-paced and idiosyncratic novel that swerves frighteningly close to dead-on political reporting…Evocative, touching, horrifying, funny, and clever all at once, this literary tragicomedy deserves its name.”

    Seattle Times

  • “Fans of Gary Shteyngart’s first novel…will not be disappointed by his much-anticipated Absurdistan, which displays once again this comic author’s exhilarating talent for skewing the absurdities of contemporary culture…For all its rage and irony, Shteyngart’s Jewish heart pumps with love and empathy, even with the approaching shadow of no towers.”

    Chicago Tribune

  • “A hilariously warped mockery of geopolitics, media, and war; a Catch-22 for the age of short attention spans.”

    People

  • “Delightful…Take any one bite of Absurdistan and be amazed by the richness of its flavor…There is so much to like about this novel.”

    Boston Sunday Globe

  • “A rare treat…There is something disturbingly familiar about Absurdistan. Shteyngart’s wacky vision of a post-Cold War world sinking beneath the weight of the American Century is not far from the mark.”

    Rocky Mountain News

  • “No novelist thinks more globally than Gary Shteyngart…[He] has figured out how to be funny and appalling at the same time, often in the same sentence. He’s also surprisingly tender, making room at the heart of this caustic geopolitical burlesque for both a convincing love story and a sincere longing for home.”

    Baltimore Sun

  • “Absurdly funny…The promise of The Russian Debutante’s Handbookis fulfilled.”

    Dayton Daily News

  • Absurdistan is a novel that could have been written jointly by Kurt Vonnegut, Chuck Palanhniuk, and Jonathan Swift—after a late night spent gorging on Fox News and Russian vodka sweetened with onions. That is to say, it is inventive, biting, and comically absurd in the way that only reality can be.”

    Buffalo News

  • “A complex and enthralling commentary on the world we live in…Hilarious and highbrow all at once, [this book] is a brilliant read.”

    Austinist

  • “A freakishly intelligent, verbally giddy, frequently flying ride.”

    Elle

  • “Shteyngart piles on plots, characters, and flashbacks without losing any of the novel’s madcap momentum, and the novel builds to a frantic pitch before coming to a breathless halt on the day before 9/11. The result is a sendup of American values abroad and a complex, sympathetic protagonist worthy of comparison to America’s enduring literary heroes.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “Riotously original…Richly satiric and filled with trenchant one-liners.”

    Library Journal (starred review)

  • “Who else could tie together nineteenth-century Russian literature, hip-hop, and twenty-first-century oil politics and strife?”

    Booklist

  • “A novel at once riotous and melancholic, intimate, and expansive, as it tracks the parallel arcs of personal and international events…Readers will root for Shteyngart’s protagonist, and enjoy the adventure found in this romp of a read.”

    BookPage

  • A 2006 New York Times Book Review Top 10 Book of the Year
  • One of the 2006 New York Times Book Review 100 Notable Books for Fiction

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kathleen | 2/20/2014

    " hilarious. loved it, thought the ending was a bit abrupt. enjoyed the use of current global situations regarding oil affecting such a personal story. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Chunzi | 2/14/2014

    " Fantastic, clever satire. Thoroughly enjoyable. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Neena | 2/11/2014

    " I read this book awhile ago and I am still laughing. Mother Russia, the USA, the rich, the poor, the religious, the immigrant: all get a drubbing from Shteyngart's pointed pen. His is a story of mayhem, madness and malarkey. It's a fun house ride across the continents that lands you a truly absurd, but frightening real, state "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 PMP | 2/6/2014

    " From the salami-avocado opening of the The Russian Debutante's Handbook, I thought, here is an unstoppable writer. Either the promise of Gary Shteyngart does not carry beyond one and a half books, or my reading tastes have shifted majorly in just six months. I'm tempted to say it's my fault. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Wendy | 2/4/2014

    " At least one of the five stars here is for narrator Adam Grupper. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Melissa | 1/11/2014

    " Vulgar, dark, spot on, utterly hilarious. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Abigail Seaver | 1/4/2014

    " Raunchy yet funny satire with Russian/Jewish/Former Soviet Republic/New York City connections. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Jodie | 12/19/2013

    " I know I was "supposed" to love this...but I didn't. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kevin | 12/4/2013

    " I can't write a review of what is basically a comic book. But I will say that I did find many parts of the book very funny. Shteyngart really pulled lots of different threads together, especially the Mountain Jews. The book is just a romp of corruption run amok. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Rebek | 11/30/2013

    " This much irony is not funny to me. Also, I don't appreciate all the disguised political options regardless if I agree with them or not. Too long. Not at clever as his first. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 James Lamp | 11/16/2013

    " Hilarious. You can tell the author likes to poke fun at what he knows best: Russian culture and New York City. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Shawn | 9/12/2013

    " So very funny! I had to stop reading it in bed after Katrin fell asleep because I would burst out laughing and wake her up. Fiction with strong political overtones. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 matthew davis | 6/2/2013

    " i heard about this book on npr. it is a very entertaining story about an oil oligarch in presumably one of the baltic republics. the names and places have been changed to protect the innocent (?) but its meaning shines through. great read which is tough to put down. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Rach | 4/19/2013

    " Very funny at times, but characters aren't engaging. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Ak | 3/29/2013

    " Got one page in and was so irritated that I had to stop. Goodbye "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Dan Schiff | 12/20/2012

    " Made me laugh out loud -- I can't remember any book doing that since Catch-22. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Nyshie | 12/15/2011

    " Had its hilarious moments. Felt like a warmup to Super Sad True Love Story, though. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 William Vaughn | 11/8/2011

    " Starts slow, I did find it quite entertaining once a finally got into the book. I'm not sure it lives up to the acclaim, though it did make me laugh at times and was overall an enjoyable read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tim Wong | 10/28/2011

    " Incredibly funny narrator, a globalized migrant. Better in the parts not set in Absurdistan. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Annie Koh | 10/20/2011

    " living large and psychoanalyzed. the novel is messy in the best of possible ways and only gets confused when it has to end. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ellie Evans | 10/16/2011

    " It took me a while to get into this book, but once I learned to like the unlikely protagonist, I loved it. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Matt | 10/7/2011

    " I cant believe I finished this book. I kept hoping it would get better, but it kept getting even stranger. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Joy | 8/31/2011

    " Shteyngart made me laugh out loud a series of times in the beginning of this book. Great voice, interesting prose. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Bistra | 8/28/2011

    " Clever, intelligent and satirical. the main character although often repulsive is after all "a hero of our time"...
    hated it at first but the final verdict is don't judge it by the first 50 pages. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Elise | 8/26/2011

    " I can appreciate, but the cleverness leaves me a bit cold... "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Leigh | 8/9/2011

    " Might have worked better as a novella, the absurdity became overwhelming and slow to slog through. Entertaining in parts, I did laugh out loud at times. "

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About the Author
Author Gary Shteyngart

Gary Shteyngart was born in Leningrad in 1972 and came to the US seven years later. His debut novel, The Russian Debutante’s Handbook, won the Stephen Crane Award for First Fiction and the National Jewish Book Award for Fiction. His second novel, Absurdistan, was named one of the 10 Best Books of the Year by the New York Times Book Review and a best book of the year by Time, the Washington Post Book World, San Francisco Chronicle, Chicago Tribune, and many others. His work has appeared in numerous publications, including the New York Times, Esquire, GQ, the New Yorker, and Travel + Leisure. He currently lives in New York City.