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Gary Shteyngart on dachshunds, Lenin and reading Twain in Russia

How much of what ails America can be blamed on Facebook?

According to best-selling author Gary Shteyngart, quite a lot.

Shteyngart’s new satirical novel, “Super Sad True Love Story,” imagines a world in which the American economy has collapsed, the government is run by the so-called Bipartisan Party, and the media is dominated by Fox Liberty Ultra and the New York Lifestyle Times. It’s also a world in which people no longer read. Books are considered novelty items, and smelly ones at that.  People communicate primarily in online slang, through smart phones and social networking sites.  Genuine human contact has become obsolete.

Shteyngart — who updates his own Facebook page often — was born in 1972 in what was then Leningrad. His family immigrated to the United States when he was a boy. He was named one of the New Yorker’s 20 best writers under 40. And The New York Times — the real one — called his book a “super sad, super funny, super affecting performance.” In fact, the book has debuted to great reviews and is a New York Times bestseller.

Shteyngart generated considerable buzz last month when he filmed a trailer for the book with actor James Franco, one of his students at Columbia University, where Shteyngart teaches creative writing. For more on that and the book itself, check out Need to Know’s review of “Super Sad True Love Story,” including an interview with Shteyngart, from July.

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