Gary Shteyngart has the unique capability to leave you wincing and laughing at the same time, as any satirist worth his salt should do.
This Friday, the author of “The Russian Debutante’s Handbook” and “Absurdistan,” celebrates the release of his third, hotly anticipated book, the dystopian “Super Sad True Love Story,” at Greenlight Bookstore in Fort Greene.
The author’s latest novel takes familiar cues from his first two, exploring sex, money and politics while grounded in New York, with a self-loathing Russian Jew as the protagonist. “I’m usually compared to Gogol and Woody Allen in the same sentence. I’m quite happy about that combination,” Shteyngart has said.
This time, the story takes place sometime in the near future, in a youth-obsessed America that is on the verge of collapse — the economy is garbage, books are being phased out, and the most popular form of communication is through small electronic devices. So much for sci-fi.
As the title suggests, though, this is also a novel about love, and our Russian-American protagonist, Lenny Abramov, is a romantic who loves books, keeps what may be the world’s last diary, and ventures into a May-December romance with a young, cute-but-cruel college grad, Eunice Park, who majored in Images, minored in Assertiveness. The clever narration alternates between the two — Lenny through his diary, Eunice through the slangy shorthand of her oh-so-21st–century online correspondence.
In a world devoid of tenderness or stability, Lenny — and Shteyngart — looks to find both, but not without some hilarity. This is Shteyngart, after all, a man who once referred to Gogol as “the shizzle.”
Gary Shteyngart at Greenlight Bookstore [686 Fulton St. at S. Portland Avenue in Fort Greene, (718) 246-0200], July 30 at 7:30 pm. For info, visit www.abookstoreinbrooklyn.blogspot.com.