the russian debutante's handbook by gary shteyngart
Russian-born, self-loathing, recent college graduate (of an expensive Midwestern college), twenty-five year old nerd Vladimir Girshkin lives with his parents in Manhattan. He works at the Emma Lazarus Immigrant Absorption Society, a thoroughly useless and low-paying station. Balding, sticky, pudgy Vladimir dreams of fame and fortune, and when a Russian client's shady offer leads him to money, status, and mafia work in Prague (the 'Paris of the 90s') for a man called The Groundhog, the hilarious absurdity begins. I have a weakness for dark comedy, but if you only have time to read one of Shteyngart's books, make it Super Sad True Love Story, his latest and more tightly-woven work. Click here for the NY Times review of Mr. Shteyngart's debut novel.