Trend to the end

Poor Lenny Abramov. Though his Credit ranking’s an impressive (and patriotic) 1520, his peer-generated Male Hotness score scrapes bottom in the not-too-distant-future America of Gary Shteyngart’s brilliant Super Sad True Love Story. Thoughtful, yearning and anachronistic (he still reads books!), Lenny worries about what America’s become: an exhausted dystopia whose free-spending, tech-heavy, security-privatized, youth-obsessed, sex-crazy ways have left it gutted and ripe for takeover by impatient foreign creditors; the ill-advised invasion of Venezuela may be the tipper. Can 15-years-his-junior Eunice Park, a 24-year-old who spends hours shopping for trendy JuicyPussy attire on her äppärät (a sort of pendant-sized Orwellian iPhone), save him? When disgruntled citizens organize, will the fascistic American Restoration Authority retaliate? Can an empire’s endgame help two damaged but inspiringly humane humans find unsuspected inner strength? Shteyngart paints it masterfully in a style funny, sad and (uncomfortably) believable.