A profound and dazzlingly entertaining novel from the writer Louis Menand calls “Jane Austen with a Russian soul”.
In her warm, absorbing and keenly observed new novel, Lara Vapnyar follows the intertwined lives of four immigrants in New York City as they grapple with love and tumult, the challenges of a new home, and the absurdities of the digital age.
Vica, Vadik, Sergey and Regina met in Russia in their school days, but remained in touch and now have very different American lives. Sergey cycles through jobs as an analyst, hoping his idea for an app will finally bring him success. His wife Vica, a medical technician struggling to keep her family afloat, hunger for a better life. Sergey’s former girlfriend Regina, once a famous translator is married to a wealthy startup owner, spends her days at home grieving over a recent loss. Sergey’s best friend Vadik, a programmer ever in search of perfection, keeps trying on different women and different neighborhoods, all while pining for the one who got away.
As Sergey develops his app—calling it “Virtual Grave,” a program to preserve a person’s online presence after death—a formidable debate begins in the group, spurring questions about the changing perception of death in the modern world and the future of our virtual selves. How do our online personas define us in our daily lives, and what will they say about us when we’re gone?
Rating: 5 stars
Still Here by Lara Vapnyar is an astounding novel. Readers will be instantly hooked upon opening the book. This read offers a realistic and a deep emotional journey. One that has a way of powerfully knocking readers off their feet. The cast of characters come in an array of differences. Each one with their own journey that they struggle to overcome. Grief, stability, and an endless search. I was easily able to connect with each of the characters. Their lives were created in a way that is beyond believable. Emotions such as frustration, sorrow, and determination are felt as readers weaved through the pages.
Inside Lara Vapnyar’s novel, I have met individuals in the busy city of New York. The toughest place to settle and make a living. Yet these four immigrants do exactly that. Settled, worked, and loved in the one city that can make or break people. Still Here showed that a group of friends supported one another through their tough and troubling times. Entertaining, quirky, and smart. I enjoyed reading this tale as well as having followed the four friends as their new lives progressed. Overall, I recommend it to readers everywhere.