Book Review: Absurdistan by Gary Shteyngart

This book is ethnic, racial and sexual stereotyping from beginning to end. If you like your comedy that way, go for it. I didn’t care for it.

Posted: Oct 13, 2011 04:24 pm

I’ve added another book to this year’s booklist, Absurdistan by Gary Shteyngart. This book received many accolades and positive reviews, as brilliant, humorous, satirical fun. Given the glowing reviews, I found the book greatly disappointing. There is a fine line between comedy, satire and cynicism on one hand, and racism, ethnic and sexual stereotyping, misogyny and misanthropy on the other, and this book often delves deeply into the latter, in service of the former. I did not find most of it funny, though perhaps people who like their comedy that way might enjoy the book.

It would be interesting to hear the author himself comment on this issue – perhaps he would say that stereotyping and even racism are tools of the comedian’s trade, and he uses the tools as found. It is true that he is not the inventor of racism and misogyny, but he does go on using these tools, expecting us to laugh. Indeed, based on the reviews, many did laugh and do laugh at these conceptions. Personally, I didn’t enjoy it. Of course, I could now go on to say the rest of the book was okay, but there wasn’t anything else to the book, except that. Oh well, I guess I won’t buy any more of his books, though I might read one if it falls into my lap for free.

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