I kind of hate when publishers put a glut of pull quotes on a book. "Absurdistan," by Russian-born American writer Gary Shteyngart, is drowning in them, and he's (absurdly) compared to everyone from Swift to Vonnegut to the Marx Brothers. The book is comic, but not as funny as its writer seems to think it is. The premise, about a rich, corpulent Russian with a dead dad navigating New York and post-Soviet Russia, has a lot going for it, but it never really coheres into anything satiric or insightful. The ironic use of hip-hop and black vernacular also doesn't sit well in this day and age. He also wrote "The Russian Debutante's Handbook." I didn't like that one either.

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