Cover Osteuropa 5/2007

In Osteuropa 5/2007
Teil des Dossiers Menschen

A Russian in New York
Gary Shteyngart and the Immigrant Chic

Adrian Wanner

Deutsche Fassung


In his novels The Russian Debutante's Handbook and Absurdistan, Gary Shteyngart – Russian Jew, Soviet émigré, and New Yorker by choice – depicts his comet-like rise to “the new Nabokov” with considerable self-irony. With his East European immigrant novel, which at the same time is a novel about exile Americans, Shteyngart is setting a new literary trend. Shteyngart, somewhat like Vladimir Kaminer in Germany, uses his Russian identity for self-promotion. In a grotesque mix of Russian, Jewish and (Afro-) American pop culture, he attacks American nostalgia for the East and Russian clichés and satirises the idea of an authentic national culture as well as that of the multicultural synthesis. Yet the border between parody and sentimentality, between kitsch and authentic national pride is fluid.

(Osteuropa 5/2007, pp. 151–167)