The hilarious adventures of Vladimir, a young Russian-American immigrant, takes a serious look at what it means to be an outsider in America, and what it means to be an American.
The Russian Debutante's Handbook is infused with energy and wit and a brilliant use of language. Hilarious, extravagant, yet uncannily true to life, it follows the adventures of Vladimir, a young Russian-American immigrant, whose capitalist dreams and desires for a girlfriend lead him off the straight and narrow and into uncharted territory.
Taking us from the dreary confines of New York City's Emma Lazarus Immigrant Absorption Society to the hip frontier wilderness of Prava--the Eastern European Paris of the nineties--whose grand and glorious beauty is marred only by the shadow of the looming statue of Stalin's foot, this is both a madcap adventure and a serious look at what it means to be an outsider in America, and what it means to be an American.
1. THE STORY OF VLADIMIR GIRSHKIN
The story of Vladimir Girshkin - part P. T. Barnum, part V. I. Lenin, the man who would conquer half of Europe (albeit the wrong half) - begins the way so many other things begin. On a Monday morning. In an office. With the first cup of instant coffee gurgling to life in the common lounge.
His story begins in New York, on the corner of Broadway and Battery Place, the most disheveled, godforsaken, not-for-profit corner of New York's financial district. On the tenth floor, the Emma Lazarus Immigrant Absorption Society greeted its clients with the familiar yellow water-stained walls and dying hydrangeas of a sad Third World government office. In the reception room, under the gentle but insistent prodding of trained Assimilation Facilitators, Turks and Kurds called a truce, Tutsis queued patiently behind Hutus, Serbs chatted up Croats by the demilitarized water fountain.
Meanwhile, in the cluttered back office, junior ...
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A decade after the publication of Haussmann, or the Distinction, his acclaimed novel about nineteenth-century Paris, Paul La Farge turns his imagination to America at the dawn of the twenty-first century.
In 1908, 19-year-old Lazarus went to the home of George Shippy, the Chicago chief of police to deliver a letter - but Shippy shot Lazarus twice, killing him. Now, in the 21st century, a young writer, Brik, becomes obsessed with Lazarus' story - what really happened and why? As digs deeper, the stories of Lazarus and Brik become inextricably ...
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