Gary Shteyngart’s Super Sad True Love Story (2010) refashions older understandings of identity and politics by reinterpreting and critiquing the American myth of the melting pot for a transnational America. Shteyngart stages the union of model minorities, providing a multicultural update to the classic melting-pot narrative, in which two immigrants from different ethnic backgrounds overcome significant obstacles to form an American union. Shteyngart dramatizes the tension between what Werner Sollors calls “consent” and “descent,” between those elements of our identities that we choose and those that we inherit. However, the melting pot is undermined through technological consumerism, globalism, and capitalism. Shteyngart deconstructs the myths of American exceptionalism and the American dream that immigrant melting-pot love needs to circulate. In an extended metaphor, he posits the nation as a fractured family, blurring consent and descent categories. Shteyngart uses the dystopian genre not only to warn against the instability of a globalized future that is fast approaching but also to explore a transnational identity that is already here since, in Arjun Appadurai’s terms, America has become just another “diasporic switching point.” In an inversion of the typical diasporic American immigrant narrative, Shteyngart reverts to the rhetoric of nostalgia for a lost American homeland in an effort to salvage essential values for an unstable global future. In opposition to those who celebrate cosmopolitanism and transnationalism, Shteyngart’s dystopic satire serves as a conservative but necessary corrective, asking, in the rush into a transnational future, which values we should salvage from the wreckage of American national myth.

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