Misha Vainberg is the narrator of Absurdistan, and he describes himself in a variety of ways. Misha identifies himself as a Secular Jew and will often point to his nose when people ask him about his ethnicity. Physically, he is obese and often refers to his breasts and to his penis, which was hideously mangled when he was circumcised at the age of eighteen. Misha is born and raised in Russia but attended a university in America and now wishes to be a New Yorker. Misha is the son of the 1,238th richest man in Russia, the gangster Boris Vainberg. Misha also describes himself as a patron of multiculturalism, as a melancholic, and as a philanthropist. As a philanthropist, he has had his assistants start an organization called “Misha’s Children.” Finally, Misha enjoys gangster rapping with his friends.
Throughout Absurdistan, Misha is passive; he generally agrees to every proposal offered him. For example, Misha agrees to make peace with his father’s murderer; he agrees to sleep with his father’s mourning wife; and he agrees to pay any amount of money to robbers, blackmailers, and scam artists he meets in Absurdistan. Misha appears to be helpless and devoid of intelligence, but at times he is also capable of provocative insights about his situation.
By the end of Absurdistan, Misha becomes more responsible and more assertive. He accepts the position of Minister of Multiculturalism while in Absurdistan. He also takes action to leave the Nanabragovs after he realizes they have duped him. Finally, Misha decides to leave Nana and reaffirms his commitment to Rouenna. When the novel ends, Misha is determined to return to New York however he can, regardless of what this will require.
Rouenna is Misha’s Latina girlfriend from the South Bronx. When they first meet, Rouenna is working as a barmaid at a “titty bar.” Soon Misha begins to finance her education. After Misha is refused reentry to America, Rouenna leaves Misha for his college rival, Jerry Shteynfarb,...
(The entire section is 855 words.)