BOOK REVIEW: Super Sad True Love Story, by Gary Shteyngart
Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) Executive Director Scott Paul offers a review of Super Sad True Love Story, by Gary Shteyngart (2010, Random House).
First, I’ll confess: I’m a big fan of Gary Shteyngart’s prior works of fiction, so I eagerly anticipated the release of Super Sad True Love Story last year. And, I wasn’t disappointed.
At its core, this book is a love story wrapped in satire, set in America a few years from now, with plenty of elements of Russian literature thrown into the mix. Excellent literary reviews of the plot and characters have been published here and here.
Meanwhile, I’ll talk about the dystopian society and economy that Shteyngart envisions in his novel. Every U.S. multinational is a conglomerate—LandOLakesGMFordCredit is just one simultaneously hilarious and disturbing example. Manufacturing has virtually disappeared in the United States. Middle-income careers are now classified as strictly “Retail, Credit, or Media.” A man’s desirability is defined by his very publicly accessible credit score. The dollar is pegged to the Chinese Yuan, which as ManufactureThis readers know, is an ironic reversal of today. The most powerful man in the world is China’s central banker. The U.S. is nearing economic and political collapse, and depends on the goodwill of China and petrostate-powered sovereign wealth funds. The disenfranchised masses in America begin to rise up.
In a lot of ways, this satire is just a tad too real. Some day, there will be a tipping point from which we cannot draw back. Super Sad True Love Story gives us a glimpse of the other side: a world in which our economy has truly shed manufacturing, with the dollar displaced by the Yuan as the world’s reserve currency. It is, indeed, sad. Of course, this is fiction and satire you might say, but there’s a real kernel of truth in Shteyngart’s composition of our impending economic future. Fortunately, it’s a fate we can avoid.
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