Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Tenement Talks: Super Sad True Love Story

Author Gary Shteyngart’s latest novel Super Sad True Love Story came out July 27, and tonight he will be at the Tenement Museum for our latest Tenement Talk, co-sponsored by the Museum at Eldridge Street.

In Super Sad True Love Story, you’ll meet Lenny Abramov, a middle-aged son of Russian immigrants, who falls in love with Eunice Park, a young woman whose parents come from Korea. Lenny feels like an outsider—he writes in a diary while the rest of the world refers to books as “printed, bound media artifacts.” After a brief stay in Rome, Lenny and Eunice wind up in New York City where everything holding America together is on the brink of falling apart. Between a nation-wide credit catastrophe, uprisings in Central Park, National Guardsmen eying the New York City streets, and the Chinese government’s growing impatience with our economic woes, it’s hard to believe that love can still exist. Sounds apocalyptic, but in truth this satirical novel is often super funny.

Sections of Shteyngart’s writing made me wonder if he's not writing about today, despite the fact that his novel takes place at some undetermined point in the future. For example, when Lenny and Eunice have their first conversation, they speak completely in abbreviations, much like people do on Facebook, Twitter, or in text messages. Just how far away are we from these abbreviations taking over our spoken language entirely?

Like his two main character’s parents, Shteyngart is an immigrant, having emigrated from Leningrad (which was part of the U.S.S.R. when he was born in 1972) as a young child. He now resides on Grand Street here in the Lower East Side and is a professor of writing at Columbia University and Princeton University.

Below is the trailer for his novel, which as you'll see showcases Shteyngart's personality and style.

This Tenement Talk, held at 108 Orchard at Delancey, is free and open to the public. Simply RSVP to events(at) Reserved seats are available for those who purchase a book at the evening's event; otherwise, standing room will be available.

-posted by Devin

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