Literary Criticism and Significance

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 536

Super Sad True Love Story is Gary Shteyngart’s third novel. Shteyngart’s career has attracted a great deal of attention, particularly among literary critics. His first two novels already have won numerous awards and have been included in many best-of-the-year lists. Critics have yet to wholly endorse Super Sad True Love Story, often praising its humor and its love story but sometimes criticizing its dystopian setting for a lack of focus. Reviews have generally been positive.

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Super Sad True Love Story is in many ways a logical extension of Shteyngart’s body of work. His first novel, The Russian Debutante’s Handbook, won the Stephen Crane Award for First Fiction. His second novel, Absurdistan, also garnered esteem and was included in many best-of-the-year lists in 2006. In both novels, Shteyngart demonstrates his ability to satirically discuss contemporary issues using touching and complex social relationships while still relying on the absurd. In many ways, Super Sad True Love Story is an extension of these novels and boosts his reputation as a premier literary satirist.

Shteyngart has received acclaim for his love story. Writing for The New York Times, Michiko Kakutani suggests that Super Sad True Love Story is Shteyngart’s

most powerful and heartfelt novel yet—a novel that performs the delightful feat of mashing up an apocalyptic satire with a genuine super sad true love story.

The novel is indeed sad, particularly as Lenny and Eunice, for all the love they profess to feel, are unable to make their relationship work. Shteyngart’s ability to create a sincere love story at the heart of his satire is perhaps his greatest accomplishment in Super Sad True Love Story.

His satiric creation of a dystopian America has received a mixed response. Writing for the Wall Street Journal, Alexander Theroux suggests that America,

as portrayed here, seems to be too artificial to warrant our pity as it races toward its inevitable doom.

Other critics have expanded on this point to suggest that for all its Orwellian wordplay, Super Sad True Love Story lacks a...

(The entire section contains 536 words.)

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