Gary Shteyngart

Gary Shteyngart was born in Leningrad, U.S.S.R. in 1972 and immigrated with his family to New York at the age of seven. Speaking of fellow Soviet Jews coming to America under Jimmy Carter, Shteyngart deadpans: “Russia gets the grain it needs to run; America gets the Jews it needs to run: all in all, an excellent trade deal.” His first novel, The Russian Debutante’s Handbook, follows the rollicking times of young Russians in New York and Prava, “the Eastern European Paris of the 90s,” a thinly-veiled Prague. His recent memoir Little Failure, equal parts hilarious and heartbreaking, chronicles his early memories of the Solomon Schechter Hebrew School in Queens, N.Y. through university years to his present status as an established (albeit insecure) writer.

Michiko Kakutani of The New York Times reviewed Little Failure as, “…a testament to Mr. Shteyngart’s abilities to write with both self-mocking humor and introspective wisdom, sharp-edged sarcasm and aching—and yes, Chekhovian—tenderness.”