If Gary Shteyngart could smuggle five books into a future bookless society, here's what he would take:
Vladimir Nabokov's Pnin
"Nabokov's best, most tender, most humane. Poor Russian Professor Pnin, lost in 1950s America. There's a little bit of Pnin in all of us. Certainly in me."
George Orwell's 1984
"You know what? I always forget it's a love story! Oh, Julia. Oh, Winston. Oh, Big Brother. Oh, humanity."
Edwidge Danticat's Brother, I'm Dying
"It's not fiction, though you wish it were. Danticat's story of her uncle's tragic fate in Haiti and the U.S. is a must-read for our times."
Mordecai Richler's Barney's Version
"When I go to Montreal, I retrace Barney's footsteps, smoked meats, single malts and all. Who knew life could be so joyful?"
Chang-Rae Lee's Native Speaker
"I read this as I was writing my first novel about immigrants. The language is as good as it gets. The characters unforgettable. It floored me. Still does."