The author of two critically acclaimed novels, The Russian Debutante's Handbook and Absurdistan, Shteyngart envisions a dark tale of America's dysfunctional coming years--and the timeless and tender feelings that just might bring us back from the brink.
... a vision of the worst-case scenario, a dystopian American culture sexed up, dumbed down, and digitized ad absurdum ... a person who bangs on a piano long enough will start to hit the right notes. Super Sad True Love Story is a satire that strikes painfully at many of our culture’s weakest spots, particularly its pornographic obsession with sex and its nonchalance about Internet privacy, or what remains of it ... Shteyngart’s often very funny novel derives much of its humor from the fact that the journey from our world to his requires only a minor tweak ... in the end the joke is on us, the readers of this absurd novel that is finally neither super sad nor true nor actually about love. To criticize Shteyngart’s book for its emotionally stunted prose is beside the point. One has only to contrast it with the capaciousness of Three Years, the Chekhov novella of May-December love that Lenny admires, to understand that a real love story simply cannot be told in such a debased style, even in a joke. The form mortally reduces the text ... finally unmoving.
... a supersad, superfunny, superaffecting performance — not only showcases the ebullient satiric gifts he demonstrated in The Russian Debutante’s Handbook, but that also uncovers his abilities to write deeply and movingly about love and loss and mortality. It’s a novel that gives us a cutting comic portrait of a futuristic America, nearly ungovernable and perched on the abyss of fiscal collapse, and at the same time it is a novel that chronicles a sweetly real love affair as it blossoms from its awkward, improbable beginnings ... eflects his dual heritage, combining the dark soulfulness of Russian literature with the antic inventiveness of postmodern American writing; the tenderness of the Chekhovian tradition with the hormonal high jinks of a Judd Apatow movie. This novel avoids the pretensions and grandiosity of Mr. Shteyngart’s last book, Absurdistan, even as it demonstrates a new emotional bandwidth and ratifies his emergence as one of his generation’s most original and exhilarating writers ... Mr. Shteyngart gives us his most powerful and heartfelt novel yet — a novel that performs the delightful feat of mashing up an apocalyptic satire with a genuine supersad true love story.
... surprising and brilliant ... super sad, also incredibly (but very darkly) funny ... at its most chilling, Super Sad True Love Story comes across as a cri de coeur from an author scared for his country. The biggest risk for any dystopian novel with a political edge is that it can easily become humorless or didactic; Shteyngart deftly avoids this trap by employing his disarming and absurd sense of humor (much of which is unprintable here). Combined with the near-future setting, the effect is a novel more immediate -- and thus more frightening, at least for contemporary readers -- than similarly themed books by Orwell, Huxley and Atwood ... The novelist knows how to get well-earned, knowing laughs, but it's the deeply sad, though not quite despairing, tone that makes this such a remarkable and unexpected novel.