If Still Here is recognizable as a particular type of modern comedy, it also feels fresh and special...All sides and facets of the diamond are examined, yet the stone as a whole remains inscrutable, its surface reflecting questions that gleam back at each of us: How do you want to spend your days; what truly matters in this life? Apps aren’t the only way to outlast death, of course — art can accomplish the same trick, and Still Here deserves a long and happy life of its own.
The apps and nonstop social media updates are new, but otherwise Still Here is a brisk and amusing reboot of the familiar immigrant tale. Culture clashes, loneliness and mishaps in love and work fill the foursome’s days. Ms. Vapnyar throws in a bit of existential dread for spice. The novel jumps along episodically toward its implausible happy ending, a little in the way of a TV series. Think Friends with a heavy Russian accent.
The book, like each of Vapnyar’s key players, is not without its faults. It’s a fresh take on an old theme, but it is nevertheless an old theme, and one that uses some old tropes—about New York City, about immigrants, about social media, etc. And there are points at which it feels more beach-read than smart satire...Such shortcomings aside, Vapnyar ultimately offers a literary representation of the way we live now. She shows us America, the beautiful and absurd, managing to satirize it without ever losing sympathy for the people living in it, and certainly not for her four main characters.