Super Sad True Love Story is an epistolary novel built around the diaries of Lenny Abramov and the online posts of Eunice. Author Gary Shteyngart tells their love story against the backdrop of an American dystopia. Shteyngart’s novel is ultimately a satire of contemporary American values and trends, including the erosion of American political values, the obsession with youth, and the urge to publish personal information through social networking.
When Super Sad True Love Story opens, Lenny and Eunice are in Rome. Lenny is of Russian and Jewish descent, and he is nearly forty years old. Lenny’s age, which is revealed through his Ohio-shaped bald spot, is problematic in his line of work. Lenny is a Life Lovers Outreach Coordinator for Post-Human Services, a division of Staatling-Wapachung Corporation. Essentially, Lenny is a salesman trying to find clients for a new program that will supposedly allow people to live forever. Lenny is determined to never die. He has fallen in love with Eunice Park after meeting her at a party.
Eunice Park is twenty-four years old and is of Korean descent. She is living abroad, having studied Images and Assertiveness in university. Eunice’s father is a podiatrist, but his business has been failing since he moved from California to New Jersey. He is also violently abusive to his wife and daughters. On her GlobalTeens account, Eunice sends messages to her mother, Chung Won Park, and her friend, Precious Pony, and chats with her sister, Sally. These messages reveal that Eunice does not have many goals aside from shopping for Total Surrender panties on Ass Luxury. Eunice’s parents want her to become a lawyer. Her mother particularly laments Eunice’s low LSAT scores, all the while reminding Eunice that as the oldest daughter she has a responsibility to take care of her sister and her parents. Eunice’s mother also urges her to find a Korean Christian to date but cautions her against giving her “mystery” to any man.
Lenny leaves Rome first. The Bipartisan Party and the American Restoration Authority, whose slogan is “Together We’ll Surprise the World,” now run America. Before he can return to America, Lenny goes to the American embassy where he is interviewed by a program with an avatar otter named Jeffery Otter. Although Jeffery Other assures Lenny that they are going to be friends, Lenny is flagged after he confesses that he has socialized with “some Italians” (which the otter records as “Somalians”) and that he has slept with “DeSalva, Fabrizia.” Although Lenny is concerned about his safety, he returns to New York without incident and begins to.