Still Here by: Lara Vapnyar
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, hungers 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?
A relevant and modern exploration of what it means to live in todays digital society where someone’s online presence or persona can affect the actual world just as much the virtual one. The story is told through the eyes of four immigrants who are all trying to establish their new lives and when one invents an app that can store one’s personality online it is the chance the play at the top of a very slippery slope. A mind bender.