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Friday, March 07, 2008

For Gary Shteyngart, Russia is a Dead Country

Courier International reports:

For Gary Shteyngart, Russia is a dead country

Gary Shteyngart, an American writer with Russian origins, has just published a satirical novel about Russia, Absurdistan. Interviewed buy Antonio Lozano, he takes a pessimistic view of his country. "Today Russia is nothing but a gigantic natural gas and oil supplier. It is a dead country. It has a very low birth rate for one thing. And yet in terms of culture, it has the best prose of the19th century, without which contemporary literature cannot be understood. ... When Absurdistan was published in Russia, I was called a traitor to the nation, on the Untied States' pay-roll, but at the same time, several critics said, 'We live in Absurdistan!' ... [Satire] has always been the best political weapon, since Jonathan Swift, and then Gogol, my reference. And it continues to be, with Vladimir Sorokin in Russia and George Saunders and others in the United States."

Shteyngart has said: "This is a reality book, and the reality is that we are becoming Absurdistan with each passing day. Look, you have a government that spies on its own citizens, is basically an oil kleptocracy, the government serves the oil interest, just the way it does in Russia."

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