Satire and Comedy: Novels

New York magazine once dubbed author Sam Lipsyte “one of the ten funniest New Yorkers you’ve never heard of.” Lipsyte presents a talk in the Library’s Writers at Work series on February 19. Here’s a list of satirical and darkly comic novels you might enjoy if you like Sam Lipsyte.

By Sam Lipsyte

Home Land book jacket

Home Land
By Sam Lipsyte
The Eastern Valley High School Alumni newsletter, Catamount Notes, is bursting with tales of success: former students include a bankable politician and a famous baseball star, not to mention a major-label recording artist. Then there is the appalling, yet utterly lovable, Lewis Miner, class of '89---a.k.a Teabag---who did not pan out. This is his confession in all its bitter, lovelorn glory.

The Subject Steve: A Novel
By Sam Lipsyte
The Subject Steve is a dark, dazzling, and totally original satire on human mortality and our desperate efforts to evade it. Meet Steve (not his real name), a Special Case, in truth a Terminal Case, and the eponymous antihero of Sam Lipsyte's savagely funny first novel. Steve has been informed by his two doctors, the Philosopher and the Mechanic, that he is dying of a condition of unquestioned fatality but no discernible physical cause. Eager to brand a new plague with their names, they call it Goldfarb-Blackstone Preparatory Extinction Syndrome, or PREXIS for short.

Venus Drive: Stories
By Sam Lipsyte
From the peep palaces of Times Square to the cubicles of corporate America, Lipsyte's stories wander a dark, comic road full of need and regret. His damaged, searching narrators deliver their reports of addiction, lust, loneliness, and grief with a sly lyricism and eerie spareness that somehow redeem them.

If you like Sam Lipsyte, you might enjoy…

Then We Came to the End book jacket

Then We Came to the End: A Novel
By Joshua Ferris
The characters in Then We Came to the End cope with a business downturn in the time-honored way: through gossip, secret romance, elaborate pranks and increasingly frequent coffee breaks. By day they compete for the best office furniture and try to make sense of the mysterious pro-bono ad campaign that is their only remaining "work."

Fight Club
By Chuck Palahniuk
This underground classic first published in 1996 tells the darkly funny story of a god-forsaken man who discovers that his rage at living in a world filled with failure and lies cannot be pacified by an empty consumer culture.

Choke: A Novel
By Chuck Palahniuk
Victor Mancini, a medical-school dropout, is an antihero for our deranged times. Needing to pay elder care for his mother, Victor has devised an ingenious scam: he pretends to choke on pieces of food while dining in upscale restaurants. He then allows himself to be "saved" by fellow patrons who, feeling responsible for Victor's life, go on to send checks to support him. When he's not pulling this stunt, Victor cruises sexual addiction recovery workshops for action, visits his addled mom, and spends his days working at a colonial theme park.

By Gary Shteyngart
Shteyngart's second novel is a wild ride that follows its protagonist and narrator, Misha Vainburg, from St. Petersburg (or St. Leninsburg as he prefers to call it) to a tiny country in the Caucasus called Absurdsvani, with occasional detours via flashbacks to New York City and Misha's midwestern alma mater, Accidental College.

Pastoralia: Stories
By George Saunders
This bestselling collection of stories is set against a warped, hilarious, and terrifyingly recognizable American landscape.

All Families are Psychotic book jacket

All Families are Psychotic: A Novel
By Douglas Coupland
This most disastrous family reunion in the history of fiction binds the characters' stories with the story of our times--thalidomide, AIDS, born-again Christianity, drugs, divorce, and the Internet--all bound together with the familiar glue of family love and madness.

By Douglas Coupland
Six co-workers are bureaucratically marooned in JPod, a no-escape architectural limbo on the fringes of a massive Vancouver video-game-design company. Full of word games, visual jokes, and sideways jabs, this book throws a sharp, pointed lawn dart into the heart of contemporary life.

By J.G. Ballard
In this hallucinatory novel, an automobile provides the hellish tableau in which Vaughan, a "TV scientist" turned "nightmare angel of the highways," experiments with erotic atrocities among auto crash victims, each more sinister than the last. James Ballard, his friend and fellow obsessive, tells the story of this twisted visionary as he careens rapidly toward his own demise in an internationally orchestrated car crash with Elizabeth Taylor. A classic work of cutting-edge fiction, Crash explores both the disturbing implications and horrific possibilities of contemporary society's increasing dependence on technology as intermediary in human relations.

Cocaine Nights
By J.G. Ballard
The setting for Cocaine Nights is the Costa del Sol and the stylish resort of Estrella de Mar. Into the queasy beauty of this artificial environment steps Charles Prentice, a travel writer from London who has come to visit his brother Frank, manager of the resort's Club Nautico. Frank is in jail, having confessed to setting an explosive fire that has taken five lives. Certain that the confession was coerced, Charles launches his own investigation. As he allows himself to be drawn further into Estrella de Mar's dark underworld, this explosive novel accelerates toward a disturbing climax.

Book descriptions provided by BookLetters.