Synopses & Reviews
The Russian Debutante's Handbook
is infused with energy and wit and a brilliant use of language. Hilarious, extravagant, yet uncannily true to life, it follows the adventures of Vladimir, a young Russian-American immigrant, whose capitalist dreams and desires for a girlfriend lead him off the straight and narrow and into uncharted territory.
Taking us from the dreary confines of New York City's Emma Lazarus Immigrant Absorption Society to the hip frontier wilderness of Prava-the Eastern European Paris of the nineties-whose grand and glorious beauty is marred only by the shadow of the looming statue of Stalin's foot, The Russian Debutante's Handbook is both a madcap adventure and a serious look at what it means to be an outsider in America, and what it means to be an American.
"The hardest thing to do in a novel, it seems to me, especially a first novel, is to get your characters moving. (Note to first novelists: Beckett is not so great to imitate early on.) But The Russian Debutante's Handbook
succeeds on this score and just about every other one I can think of right now. So let's call this superb debut the real thing an acute, accurate, intelligent look at America in the nineties." Adrienne Miller, Esquire
(read the entire Esquire review
"The Russian Debutante's Handbook is a blisteringly funny, almost frighteningly energetic novel of adventure, perfidy and even a car chase or two....[There is an] irresistible blend of the grandiose and the crass in Shteyngart's post-Soviet characters....Unlike the immigrants in more genteel literary fiction, [Vladimir] won't find this to be a subdued and poignant struggle. Before this dilemma is resolved, there will be tragic moments, yes, and violence, and, heaven knows, lots of exclamation points. These are Russians, after all." Laura Miller, Salon.com
"A brilliant, funny debut describing the vicissitudes of immigration today, as experienced by the hero, a young Russian-American." Harper's Bazaar
"Gary Shteyngart...has produced a sardonic, moving and ingeniously crafted update of earlier sagas of upward-struggling American newcomers." Washington Post
"The rampaging narrative is festooned on every page with glitering one-liners, improbably apt similes and other miniature pleasures." Elle
"This picaresque debut...transcends its personal genesis to become an all-around great American story." Time Out New York
"[A] very funny, very deft first novel....[U]proarious and highly entertaining....[L]ike Victor Pelevin, [Shteyngart] proves himself a nimble cultural magpie, borrowing street argot from both the East and West to create a wonderfully idiomatic, jet-fueled prose. His voice, however, is thoroughly his own, by turns ironic and earnest, farcical and melancholy." Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
About the Author
Gary Shteyngart was born in Leningrad, USSR, in 1972, and came to the United States seven years later.