The Russian Debutante's Handbook

Gary Shteyngart, Author, Kristen Bensch, Recorded by, Henrietta Tiefenthaler, Recorded by
Gary Shteyngart, Author, Kristen Bensch, Recorded by, Henrietta Tiefenthaler, Recorded by , read by Rider Strong. Phoenix Audio $29.95 (0p) ISBN 978-1-597-77134-4
Reviewed on: 01/29/2007
Release date: 01/01/2007

Four years after its initial publication, Shteyngart's debut novel makes its first appearance in an audio version. Strong gamely does his best to capture the antic rhythms of Shteyngart's irrepressible comic novel, but his reading lacks fluency, failing to emulate the book's dry, sardonic wit. More so than most novels, Shteyngart's book depends on the sound of language—immigrants' careful tap dance around a language not entirely their own. While it would perhaps have been too simplistic to have a Russian-sounding voice read this novel, the gamble of having a voice so clearly not Russian results in a competent but unenlightening reading that undersells its source material. Strong sounds too wholesomely American and too white bread to be protagonist Vladimir Girshkin. The result is a reading that lacks a true connection to Shteyngart's work. (Reviews, Apr. 29, 2002) (Jan.)

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