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Satire is the Best Political Weapon

absurdistan.jpgGary Shteyngart, the Russian-American author of the comic novels “The Russian Debuntante’s Handbook” and “Absurdistan” (and a personal favorite of mine) was recently interviewed about current events in Russia by La Vanguardia’s Antonio Lozano. The translated extract comes courtesy of Courrier:

“Today Russia is nothing but a gigantic natural gas and oil supplier. It is a dead country. It has a very low birth rate for one thing. And yet in terms of culture, it has the best prose of the19th century, without which contemporary literature cannot be understood. … When Absurdistan was published in Russia, I was called a traitor to the nation, on the Untied States’ pay-roll, but at the same time, several critics said, ‘We live in Absurdistan!’ … [Satire] has always been the best political weapon, since Jonathan Swift, and then Gogol, my reference. And it continues to be, with Vladimir Sorokin in Russia and George Saunders and others in the United States.”