Shteyngart Quotes

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Summer is a Latvian chicken. We make foolish choices. We think we're young again. We run with outstretched arms toward an object of love and it pecks us and pecks us until we're standing there snot-nosed and teary in the middle of Astor Place and the sun sets fire to our Penguin shirts and all that is left to do is go to our air-conditioned homes and ponder the cruelty of our finest season. ~ Gary Shteyngart
Shteyngart quotes by Gary Shteyngart
How desperately I wanted to forsake these facts, to open a smelly old book or to go down on a pretty young girl instead. Why couldn't I have been born to a better world? ~ Gary Shteyngart
Shteyngart quotes by Gary Shteyngart
People who think literature should be Serious - should serve as a blueprint for a rocket that will never take off - are malevolent at best, anti-Semitic at worst. ~ Gary Shteyngart
Shteyngart quotes by Gary Shteyngart
The simple trill of her laugh has not declined over the years; if anything it's been buffeted by her endless sorrows and disappointments. ~ Gary Shteyngart
Shteyngart quotes by Gary Shteyngart
The world is harsh and inconsiderate, and you can rely only on your family. ~ Gary Shteyngart
Shteyngart quotes by Gary Shteyngart
Without humor, I cannot go on and I doubt many of my readers would go on either. Humor is so important. I am here to have fun here with my work. ~ Gary Shteyngart
Shteyngart quotes by Gary Shteyngart
I like the map feature on the iPhone that tells me where I am, because I travel a lot. ~ Gary Shteyngart
Shteyngart quotes by Gary Shteyngart
Aberdeen, a city in the northern reaches of HSBC-London. Their ~ Gary Shteyngart
Shteyngart quotes by Gary Shteyngart
That's what tyrants do, I guess. They make you covet their attention; they make you confuse attention for mercy. ~ Gary Shteyngart
Shteyngart quotes by Gary Shteyngart
I felt the weakness of these books, their immateriality, how they had failed to change the world, and I didn't want to sully myself with their weakness anymore. ~ Gary Shteyngart
Shteyngart quotes by Gary Shteyngart
These kinds of lost, overeducated mama's boys were perpetually stumbling down a corridor with two distant exits, one marked HESITANT INTELLECTUAL and the other SHYSTER. ~ Gary Shteyngart
Shteyngart quotes by Gary Shteyngart
When he mentioned family, I could only think of my father, my real father, the Long Island janitor with the impenetrable accent and true-to-life smells. My mind returned away from what Joshie was saying and I pondered my father's humiliation. The humiliation of growing up a Jew in the Soviet Union, of cleaning piss-stained bathrooms in the States, of worshipping a country that would collapse as simply and inelegantly as the one he had abandoned. ~ Gary Shteyngart
Shteyngart quotes by Gary Shteyngart
My parents were kind enough to spend hours talking to me. ~ Gary Shteyngart
Shteyngart quotes by Gary Shteyngart
I told her my father was a retired janitor who liked to go fishing. She told me her father was a podiatrist who liked to punch his wife and two daughters in the face. ~ Gary Shteyngart
Shteyngart quotes by Gary Shteyngart
The only way to write about right now is to write about the future. ~ Gary Shteyngart
Shteyngart quotes by Gary Shteyngart
After all, this is America, and you can swap out the parts of yourself that don't work. You can rebuild yourself piece by piece. ~ Gary Shteyngart
Shteyngart quotes by Gary Shteyngart
From the moment I bought my ticket, I had a premonition I wasn't returning to New York anytime soon.
You Know, this happens a lot to Russians. The Soviet Union is gone, and the borders are as free and passable as they've ever been. And yet, when a Russian moves between the two universes, this feeling of finality persists, the logical impossibility of a place like Russia existing alongside the civilized world, of Ann Arbor, Michigan, sharing the same atmosphere with, say, Vladivostok. It was like those mathematical concepts I could never understand in high school: if, then. If Russia exists, then the West is a mirage; conversely, if Russia does not exist, then and only then is the West real and tangible. No wonder young people talk about "going beyond the cordon" when they talk of emigrating, as if Russia were ringed by a vast cordon sanitaire. Either you stay in the leper colony or you get out into the wider world and maybe try to spread your disease to others. ~ Gary Shteyngart
Shteyngart quotes by Gary Shteyngart
If you're not fascinated by Korea yet, you damn well should be. The most innovative country on earth deserves a hilarious and poignant account on the order of Euny Hong's The Birth of Korean Cool. Her phat beats got Gangnam Style and then some. ~ Gary Shteyngart
Shteyngart quotes by Gary Shteyngart
All of my books have an element of a man who is in love with somebody and needs them desperately, not just for procreation but for being able to fully unbosom himself. He only feels comfortable discussing things with women. Which is funny, because 80 percent of readers are women! ~ Gary Shteyngart
Shteyngart quotes by Gary Shteyngart
My father sits at the head of a table before the carcass of an enormous American turkey. What he is ashamed of is the one act of decency I have yet encountered in all the tales of our family's past. A young boy with a dead father and a dead friend bends down before a country dog and feeds it his butter sandwich. And I know that sandwich. Because he has made it for me. Two slices of that dark, unbleached Russian bread, the kind that tastes of badly managed soil and a peasant's indifference to death. On top of it, the creamiest, deadliest of American butter, slathered in thick feta-like hunks. And on top of that cloves of garlic, the garlic that is to give me strength, that is to clear my lungs of asthmatic gunk, and make of me a real garlic-eating strong man. At a table in Leningrad, and a table in deepest Queens, New York, the ridiculous garlic crunches beneath our teeth as we sit across from each other, the garlic obliterating whatever else we have eaten, and making us one. ~ Gary Shteyngart
Shteyngart quotes by Gary Shteyngart
I am scared of the photo studio. I am scared of the telephone. Scared of anything outside our apartment. Scared of the people in their big fur hats. Scared of the snow. Scared of the cold. Scared of the heat. Scared of the ceiling fan at which I would point one tragic finger and start weeping. Scared of any height higher than my sickbed. Scared of Uncle Electric Current. "Why was I so scared of everything?" I ask my mother nearly forty years later.
"Because you were born a Jewish person," she says. ~ Gary Shteyngart
Shteyngart quotes by Gary Shteyngart
I read real books. On paper. You know, those printed books? I feel like this is the last thing I do to support my industry. I think they smell great, too. ~ Gary Shteyngart
Shteyngart quotes by Gary Shteyngart
People always write on my Facebook that they've seen somebody they thought was me on the subway, and I was cursing badly. ~ Gary Shteyngart
Shteyngart quotes by Gary Shteyngart
Communications devices were always used to effect change, to effect revolution. Telephone, telegraph - these all seemed like very big enhancements at the time. ~ Gary Shteyngart
Shteyngart quotes by Gary Shteyngart
You go around and you do things and you don't know why you do them," she said. "And that's the story of your gender writ large. ~ Gary Shteyngart
Shteyngart quotes by Gary Shteyngart
I wanted to confront her, to make her see the folly of her religion, to change her diet, to help her spend less on makeup and other nonessentials, to make her worship every biological moment she was offered instead of some badly punctured deity. I also wanted to kiss her for some reason, feel the life pulsing in those big Catholic lips, remind myself of the primacy of the living animal, of my time amongst the Romans. ~ Gary Shteyngart
Shteyngart quotes by Gary Shteyngart
If you read only one memoir by a disaffected, urban, 20-something Jewish girl this year, make it this one. Shukert rocks the lulav. ~ Gary Shteyngart
Shteyngart quotes by Gary Shteyngart
I love Paul Giamatti - God, that man is like a walking Chekhov. His connection to humanity is unbelievable, and those feelings of low self-esteem - the way that all comes together on the screen? Delicious. ~ Gary Shteyngart
Shteyngart quotes by Gary Shteyngart
You want to read a book? That requires introspection. It requires time away from people and time away from the constant need to communicate and to connect. ~ Gary Shteyngart
Shteyngart quotes by Gary Shteyngart
I was very, very sick when I was growing up in Russia. The ambulance constantly came to our house. I had horrible asthma that is easily treated in America, but they didn't even have inhalers back in Russia. ~ Gary Shteyngart
Shteyngart quotes by Gary Shteyngart
My first book really did change my life. It allowed me to fully express myself. There was a sense that I was worth something as an artist. ~ Gary Shteyngart
Shteyngart quotes by Gary Shteyngart
Heavy use of a special hypoallergenic organic air freshener is encouraged at Post-Human Services, because the scent of immortality is complex. ~ Gary Shteyngart
Shteyngart quotes by Gary Shteyngart
The best thing about the iPhone is this that tells me where I am all the time. There's never a need to feel lost anymore. ~ Gary Shteyngart
Shteyngart quotes by Gary Shteyngart
I just want fiction to remain a vital force for entertainment and not just for contemplation. Both things can exist. ~ Gary Shteyngart
Shteyngart quotes by Gary Shteyngart
Then I celebrated my Wall of Books. I counted the volumes on my twenty-foot-long modernist bookshelf to make sure none had been misplaced or used as kindling by my subtenant. "You're my sacred ones," I told the books. "No one but me still cares about you. But I'm going to keep you with me forever. And one day I'll make you important again." I thought about that terrible calumny of the new generation: that books smell. ~ Gary Shteyngart
Shteyngart quotes by Gary Shteyngart
Remember this ... develop a sense of nostalgia for something, or you'll never figure out what's important. ~ Gary Shteyngart
Shteyngart quotes by Gary Shteyngart
A few hours later, lying on a mat during rest time, Vladimir embraced the tiny curled-up creature beside him, his first best buddy, just as Mother had promised. Maybe tomorrow they could go to the Piskaryovka mass grave together with their grandmothers and lay flowers for their dead. Maybe they would even be inducted into the Red Pioneers side by side. What good fortune that he and Lionya were so alike and that neither of them had siblings ... Now they would have each other! It was as if Mother had created someone just for him, as if she had guessed how lonely he had been in his sick bed with his stuffed giraffe, the months spinning away in twilight gloom until it was June again, time to go down to sunny Yalta to watch the Black Sea dolphins jump for joy. ~ Gary Shteyngart
Shteyngart quotes by Gary Shteyngart
I always think that good writers should be growing up on the brink of death - it really lets them see mortality very clearly. ~ Gary Shteyngart
Shteyngart quotes by Gary Shteyngart
I remember reading the Times in the subway, folding it awkwardly while leaning against the door, caught up in the words, worried about crashing to the floor or tripping over some lightly clad beauty (there was always at least one), but even more afraid to lose the thread of the article in front of me, my spine banging against the train door, the clatter and drone of the massive machine around me, and me, with my words, brilliantly alone. ~ Gary Shteyngart
Shteyngart quotes by Gary Shteyngart
The true subject of science fiction is death, not life. It will all end. The totality of it. ~ Gary Shteyngart
Shteyngart quotes by Gary Shteyngart
Folks had draped strange flags over their iron porticoes with drawings of pineapples and the word WELCOME. The South was like that, festive but impenetrable. ~ Gary Shteyngart
Shteyngart quotes by Gary Shteyngart
American fiction is good. It would be nice if somebody read it. ~ Gary Shteyngart
Shteyngart quotes by Gary Shteyngart
Michigan, with its delicious American name. How lucky one must be to live there. ~ Gary Shteyngart
Shteyngart quotes by Gary Shteyngart
I reveled in the smallness, the coziness of an upstairs bedroom in a traditional American Cape Cod house the half-floor that forces you to duck, to feel small and naive again, ready for anything, dying for love, your body a chimney filled with odd, black smoke. These square, squat, awkward rooms are like a fifty-square-foot paean to teenage-hood, to ripeness, to the first and last taste of youth. ~ Gary Shteyngart
Shteyngart quotes by Gary Shteyngart
He didn't love her. They were together for the obvious and timeless reason: It was slightly less painful than being alone. ~ Gary Shteyngart
Shteyngart quotes by Gary Shteyngart
I have a great memory. And actually, I remember Russia in some ways better than I remember Queens. ~ Gary Shteyngart
Shteyngart quotes by Gary Shteyngart
What she missed most about dating men was that small, disconcerting time frame when you thought that maybe you could change them. ~ Gary Shteyngart
Shteyngart quotes by Gary Shteyngart
Before my first novel, I was dating a woman who later went to prison for bashing a guy with a hammer. ~ Gary Shteyngart
Shteyngart quotes by Gary Shteyngart
In a strange way, I expected Russia to become more like America since the Soviet Union collapsed, but the reverse is true. America has become more like Russia: a kleptocratic society. ~ Gary Shteyngart
Shteyngart quotes by Gary Shteyngart
Cohen was on his knees taking a picture of a passing cloud, an unremarkable cirrus shaped as if it were sketched expressly for a meteorology textbook, its immortality assured only through the wild Polish luck of having passed the former concentration camp on the day of Cohen's visit. ~ Gary Shteyngart
Shteyngart quotes by Gary Shteyngart
But I knew it wasn't just the cute girl on the screen that had made Eunice cry. It was her father laughing, being kind, the family momentarily loving and intact - a cruel side trip into the impossible, an alternate history. The dinner was over. The waiters were clearing the table with resignation and without a word. I knew that, according to tradition, I had to allow Dr. Park to pay for the meal, but I went into my apparat and transferred him three hundred yuan, the total of the bill, out of an unnamed account. I did not want his money. Even if my dreams were realised and I would marry Eunice someday, Dr. Park would always remain to me a stranger. After thirty-nine years of being alive, I had forgiven my own parents for not knowing how to care for a child, but that was the depth of my forgiveness. ~ Gary Shteyngart
Shteyngart quotes by Gary Shteyngart
I have my own dying empire to contend with, and I do not wish for any other. ~ Gary Shteyngart
Shteyngart quotes by Gary Shteyngart
That's what I admire about youngish Italians, the slow dimunition of ambition, the recognition that the best is far behind them. ~ Gary Shteyngart
Shteyngart quotes by Gary Shteyngart
These are all good things, I said. But no one knows where your country is or who you are. You don't have a familiar ethnic cuisine; your diaspora , from what I understand, is mostly in Southern California, three time zones removed from the national media in New York; and you don't have a recognizable, long-simmering conflict like the one between the Israelis and the Palestinians, where people in the richer nations can take sides and argue over at the dinner table. The best you can do is get the United Nations involved, as in East Timor. Maybe they'll send troops."
"We don't want the United Nations" Mr. Nanabragov said. "We don't want Sri Lankan troops patrolling our streets. We're better tan that. We want America. ~ Gary Shteyngart
Shteyngart quotes by Gary Shteyngart
Joshie had always told Post-Human Services staff to keep a diary, to remember who we were, because every moment our brains and synapses are being rebuilt and rewired with maddening disregard for our personalities, so that each year, each month, each day we transform into a different person, an utterly unfaithful iteration of our original selves, of the drooling kid in the sandbox. ~ Gary Shteyngart
Shteyngart quotes by Gary Shteyngart
The truth is this: The rich will rule even at a place like Oberlin, where their kind is technically forbidden. They will simply invert the power structure to suit their needs. They will come out on top no matter what. Stuyvesant was hard but hopeful; Oberlin, on the other hand, reminds me yet again how the world works. I guess that's why they call it an education. ~ Gary Shteyngart
Shteyngart quotes by Gary Shteyngart
Freedom is anathema to dreams nurtured in captivity. ~ Gary Shteyngart
Shteyngart quotes by Gary Shteyngart
In America, the distance between wanting something and having it delivered to your living room is not terribly great. ~ Gary Shteyngart
Shteyngart quotes by Gary Shteyngart
Everyone struggles. Each life comes with a long catalog of pain. ~ Gary Shteyngart
Shteyngart quotes by Gary Shteyngart
Asthmatic immigrant learns to breathe by writing. ~ Gary Shteyngart
Shteyngart quotes by Gary Shteyngart
I think of my mother and father. Of their constant anxiety. But their anxiety means they still want to live. ~ Gary Shteyngart
Shteyngart quotes by Gary Shteyngart
A lot of the ways of advertising a book - the cover, whether somebody sees it on a subway or sees it in a bookstore - those things are going to rapidly diminish as we move to an electronic model. ~ Gary Shteyngart
Shteyngart quotes by Gary Shteyngart
I prepared for my meal in the usual fashion: fork in my left hand; my dominant right clenched into a fist on my lap, ready to punch anyone who dared take away my food. ~ Gary Shteyngart
Shteyngart quotes by Gary Shteyngart
Now he understood why he hated Luis Goodman and other writers so much. He was a damaged person, but not damaged enough to make a life out of it. ~ Gary Shteyngart
Shteyngart quotes by Gary Shteyngart
I started to see it Eunice's way. We now had obligations to each other. Our families had failed us, and now we had to form an equally strong and enduring connection to each other. Any gap between us was a failure. Success would come when neither of us knew where one ended and the other began. ~ Gary Shteyngart
Shteyngart quotes by Gary Shteyngart
Also, I've spent an entire week without reading any books or talking about them too loudly. I'm learning to work my apparat's screen, the colourful pulsating mosaic of it, the fact that it knows every last stinking detail about the world, whereas my books only know the minds of their authors. ~ Gary Shteyngart
Shteyngart quotes by Gary Shteyngart
Do not throw away your heart. Keep your heart. Your heart is all that matters ... Throw away your ancestors! ... Throw away your shyness and the anger that lies just a few inches beneath ... Accept the truth! And if there is more than one truth, then learn to do the difficult work
learn to choose. You are good enough, you are HUMAN ENOUGH, to choose! ~ Gary Shteyngart
Shteyngart quotes by Gary Shteyngart
Good fiction makes me turn off all the other parts of my brain, so that I become quiet and submissive, entirely at the mercy of the work at hand. ~ Gary Shteyngart
Shteyngart quotes by Gary Shteyngart
If we can't take care of each other now, when the world is going to shit, how are we ever going to make it? ~ Gary Shteyngart
Shteyngart quotes by Gary Shteyngart
I want to be loved so badly, it verges on mild insanity. ~ Gary Shteyngart
Shteyngart quotes by Gary Shteyngart
I know this kind of girl," Grace was saying. "It's the worst kind of combination of abuse and privilege, and growing up in this, like, greenhorn southern-Californian Asian upper-middle-class ghetto, where everyone is so shallow and money-craven. ~ Gary Shteyngart
Shteyngart quotes by Gary Shteyngart
She took my hand and pulled me after her, her shoulders giving off a sweet peppermint concoction that the bodies of young women sometimes produce to make my life more difficult. ~ Gary Shteyngart
Shteyngart quotes by Gary Shteyngart
If only beauty could explain the world away. ~ Gary Shteyngart
Shteyngart quotes by Gary Shteyngart
We're people of the Orient. We know everything. And what we don't know, we can sense. ~ Gary Shteyngart
Shteyngart quotes by Gary Shteyngart
I write almost entirely in bed or on a couch with my feet up on the coffee table. I feel most creative when I'm looking out the window, and my bed and couch have nice views of the New York skyline. ~ Gary Shteyngart
Shteyngart quotes by Gary Shteyngart
My mother is changing history. She is making her balalaika-smashing mother into a heroine. Does she want me to do the same for her? Is that what good children do for their parents? What about good writers? ~ Gary Shteyngart
Shteyngart quotes by Gary Shteyngart
The radio station was playing Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake, a sure sign that things were much worse than they appeared. ~ Gary Shteyngart
Shteyngart quotes by Gary Shteyngart
In the first few pages, Kundera discusses several abstract historical figures: Robespierre, Nietzsche, Hitler. For Eunice's sake, I wanted him to get to the plot, to introduce actual "living" characters - I recalled this was a love story - and to leave the world of ideas behind. Here we were, two people lying in bed, Eunice's worried head propped on my collarbone, and I wanted us to feel something in common. I wanted this complex language, this surge of intellect, to be processed into love. Isn't that how they used to do it a century ago, people reading poetry to one another? ~ Gary Shteyngart
Shteyngart quotes by Gary Shteyngart
After he had taught himself to be friendly, everything else became harder. He had to let go of his nerdy passions. He couldn't do both at once. ~ Gary Shteyngart
Shteyngart quotes by Gary Shteyngart
Reading is difficult. People just aren't meant to read anymore. We're in a post-literate age. You know, a visual age. How many years after the fall of Rome did it take for a Dante to appear? Many, many years. ~ Gary Shteyngart
Shteyngart quotes by Gary Shteyngart
It is a capital insult in this country not to make love to a naked woman, even if she is related to you. ~ Gary Shteyngart
Shteyngart quotes by Gary Shteyngart
I crammed a handful of Ativan into his mouth and flooded that orifice with forty ounces of Coca-Cola from the cup holder. 'This is going to take effect immediately,' I lied. 'Breathe, Mr. Sakha, breathe. Would you like me to sing a calming Western song? My name is Luka', I sang. 'I live on the second floor. ~ Gary Shteyngart
Shteyngart quotes by Gary Shteyngart
A dessert made out of a dozen matzohs, a gallon of cream and amaretto liqueur, and a tub of raspberries. What I believe my mother is aiming for is a mille-feuille, or, in Russian, a tort Napoleon. The result is a vaguely Passover-based departure from pastry reality. In deference to its point of origin, she likes to call it French. ~ Gary Shteyngart
Shteyngart quotes by Gary Shteyngart
With a singlemindedness common only to former Soviet interior-ministry troops and first-year law students ~ Gary Shteyngart
Shteyngart quotes by Gary Shteyngart
The love I felt for her on that train ride had a capital and provinces, parishes and a Vatican, an orange planet and many sullen moons
it was systemic and it was complete. ~ Gary Shteyngart
Shteyngart quotes by Gary Shteyngart
The past is haunting us. In Queens, in Manhattan, it is shadowing us, punching us in the stomach. I am small, and my father is big. But the Past - it is the biggest. ~ Gary Shteyngart
Shteyngart quotes by Gary Shteyngart
You don't want to end up in Troy," the ~ Gary Shteyngart
Shteyngart quotes by Gary Shteyngart
All love is socioeconomic. It's the gradients in status that make arousal possible. ~ Gary Shteyngart
Shteyngart quotes by Gary Shteyngart
I don't have many possessions, apart from my books. ~ Gary Shteyngart
Shteyngart quotes by Gary Shteyngart
Forget the fountain of youth, pal of mine. You can live to be a thousand, and it won't matter. Mediocrities like you deserve immortality. ~ Gary Shteyngart
Shteyngart quotes by Gary Shteyngart
If they can make a fabulous gay man work like that, I thought, what can they do to the rest of us? ~ Gary Shteyngart
Shteyngart quotes by Gary Shteyngart
That in the face of smarter women it was best to beat a continuous retreat, to slash and burn one's own personal convictions before their sure-footed advance. ~ Gary Shteyngart
Shteyngart quotes by Gary Shteyngart
Joshie has always told Post Human Services Staff to keep a diary, to remember who we were because every moment, our brains and synapses are being rebuilt and rewired with maddening disregard for our personalities, so that each year, each month, each day, we transfer into a different person, an utterly unfaithful iteration of our original selves, of the drooling kid in the sandbox. But not me. I am still a facsimile of my early childhood. I am still looking for a loving dad to lift me up and brush the sand off my ass and to hear English, calm and hurtless, fall off his lips. ~ Gary Shteyngart
Shteyngart quotes by Gary Shteyngart
There, I was ridiculed for being an inauthentic American, and now I am being charged with being an inauthentic Russian. I do not yet understand that this very paradox is the true subject of so-called immigrant fiction. ~ Gary Shteyngart
Shteyngart quotes by Gary Shteyngart
Any life ending in death is essentially pointless. ~ Gary Shteyngart
Shteyngart quotes by Gary Shteyngart
On that night I was left with only the truth that nothing of our personality survives after death, that in the end all that was Misha Vainberg would evaporate along with the styles and delusions of his epoch, leaving behind not one flutter of his sad heavy brilliance, not one damp spot around which his successors could congregate to appreciate his life and times. ~ Gary Shteyngart
Shteyngart quotes by Gary Shteyngart
If I still lived in Russia, I'd be dead ... or a really effective oligarch. ~ Gary Shteyngart
Shteyngart quotes by Gary Shteyngart
But in the last message I got right before they ambushed his ass he basically said, David, you are a dreamer and a disgrace and you'll never get your shit together, and I'll always fight everything you believe in, but I'll also never love anyone more than you, so if anything happens to me just keep going the way you are. ~ Gary Shteyngart
Shteyngart quotes by Gary Shteyngart
I love librarians more than any other people in the world. When I was an immigrant kid, they've made me feel like a human being and they gave me books that taught me English. ~ Gary Shteyngart
Shteyngart quotes by Gary Shteyngart
I write five, six days a week. The thing is capturing the voice. I feel like I've been perfecting one voice - in different iterations, sure, but the Russian-ness has always been the undercurrent. ~ Gary Shteyngart
Shteyngart quotes by Gary Shteyngart
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