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Gary Shteyngart Chronicles Life in 'Absurdistan'

Gary Shteyngart came to the United States in 1979 as a 7-year-old Soviet-Jewish kid. He says he left behind a life of childhood bliss for the lot of a depressive, self-described nerd in New York City.

Shteyngart has grown up to be a humorist and novelist who writes about people and places that are real and imaginary. He also writes about that curious category in between: people and places in the former Soviet Union.

His new novel is about a country called Absurdistan. The country might remind readers of certain countries in the Caucasus, like Azerbaijan or Georgia, says Shteyngart. His Absurdistan is oil-rich and run by an elite kleptocracy and a group of companies, including Halliburton.

"It's almost nonfiction," says Shteyngart.

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