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Russian Debutante's Handbook

Shteyngart, Gary

6,044 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 1573229881 / ISBN 13: 9781573229883
Published by Riverhead Trade, 2003
Condition: Fine Soft cover
From Browsers' Bookstore, CBA (Corvallis, OR, U.S.A.)

AbeBooks Seller Since November 23, 2001

Quantity Available: 1

About this Item

Signed. First Edition. First paperback printing. Signed by the author. Glossy wraps, fine. Though not marked, from the collection of Mel Waggoner, host of the public radio program "Profiles" which interviewed authors. Bookseller Inventory # mon0000092614

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Russian Debutante's Handbook

Publisher: Riverhead Trade

Publication Date: 2003

Binding: Paperback

Book Condition:Fine

Signed: Signed by Author(s)

Edition: 1st Edition

About this title

Synopsis:

A visionary novel from the author of Super Sad True Love Story and Little Failure.

The Russian Debutante's Handbook
introduces Vladimir Girshkin, one of the most original and unlikely heroes of recent times. The twenty-five-year-old unhappy lover to a fat dungeon mistress, affectionately nicknamed "Little Failure" by his high-achieving mother, Vladimir toils his days away as a lowly clerk at the bureaucratic Emma Lazarus Immigrant Absorption Society. When a wealthy but psychotic old Russian war hero appears, Vladimir embarks on an adventure of unrelenting lunacy that takes us from New York's Lower East Side to the hip frontier wilderness of Prava--the Eastern European Paris of the nineties. With the help of a murderous but fun-loving Russian mafioso, Vladimir infiltrates the Prava expat community and launches a scheme as ridiculous as it is brilliant.

Bursting with wit, humor, and rare insight, The Russian Debutante's Handbook is both a highly imaginative romp and a serious exploration of what it means to be an immigrant in America.

Review:

Vladimir Girshkin, a likeable Russian immigrant, searches for love, a decent job, and a credible self-identity in Gary Shteyngart's debut novel, The Russian Debutante's Handbook. With a doctor-father of questionable ethics and a manic, banker mother, Vladimir avoids his suburban parents and their desire that he pursue the almighty dollar as proof of success. Vladimir gets by as an immigration clerk, eking out a living in a cruddy New York City apartment while accumulating an array of quirky acquaintances, from a wealthy but disheveled old man (who claims his electric fan speaks to him) desperate for citizenship to Challa, a portly S/M queen. As a love interest, Challa is replaced by Francesca, a graduate student whose friends welcome Vladimir for the status he brings their bohemian clique, and whose parents encourage them to shack up (she lives at home) as visible proof she can maintain a steady relationship.

The Russian Debutante's Handbook is a quirky amalgam of dead-on American absurdities, albeit with somewhat stereotypical characters. While Vladimir flounders with how to improve his state, he becomes an expatriate in a trendy European city, becomes somewhat of a mobster himself, and generally has a good time. While many of the central characters remain elusively thin, Vladimir is a delight, and Shteyngart's wit is merciless: Russian women wear "wedding cakes of blond hair" and graduate students lounge in a bar "as if waiting for funding to appear." Reminiscent of Gogol and other Russian satirists, The Russian Debutante's Handbook is a genuine, sublime social commentary. --Michael Ferch

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