Russian expatriate Gary Shteyngart has only published two novels, but both are so trenchantly insightful, so observant, original, and flat-out funny that he is already regarded by many as a major literary force. Shteyngart’s debut, The Russian Debutante’s Handbook, was the recipient of the Stephen Crane Award for First Fiction and the National Jewish Book Award for Fiction.
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New York, New York
Date of Birth:
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B.A., Oberlin College, 1995
Stephen Crane Award for First Fiction and the National Jewish Book Award for Fiction for The Russian Debutante's Handbook, 2002
"Compared with most young novelists his age, who tend toward cutesy involution, Shteyngart is a giant mounted on horseback," comments The New York Times. "He ranges more widely, sees more sweepingly, and gets where he's going with far more aplomb. His Absurdistan, to Americans, may seem amusingly far away at first, but the longer one spends there, hunkered down with Misha in a hotel room high above the rocket fire, the closer and more recognizable it gets. Absurdsvanï is far, but Absurdistan is near."
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|A Writer's Rituals|
|In our interview, we asked Shteyngart to tell us about his writing rituals. "I write almost entirely in bed or on a couch with my feet up on the coffee table," he explains. "I feel most creative when I’m looking out the window, and my bed and couch have nice views of the New York skyline."|
|The Best Book to Read First||Reading Recommendations|
|The Russian Debutante's Handbook|
Shteyngart's buzzed-about debut introduced one the most engaging protagonists in recent fiction. Vladimir Girshkin, the child of immigrant Soviet Jews, is prepared to spend the rest of his life at the bottom of the American socioeconomic heap. "But when he attracts the attention of a rich girl, this perennial loser is sparked into a sudden quest for fame, fortune, and a new identity," noted the panel of our Discover Great New Writers program.
|Random Family: Love, Drugs, Trouble and Coming of Age in the Bronx|
Adrian Nicole LeBlanc
We asked Shteyngart to tell us about some of his favorite reads. He calls this work from a journalist who spent ten years in the South Bronx "the most authentic, harrowing and moving description of life in the American underclass" and "the most brilliant journalism of the new century." Read our interview with Shteyngart to learn more about his favorite books, including:
|Photo by Marion Ettlinger||