Leninglad! Celebrating 10 Years of Gary Shteyngart, Contemporary Literature’s Hairiest, Funniest Author
Early on in Gary Shteyngart’s first novel, The Russian Debutante’s Handbook, which celebrated its 10th anniversary this year, the fickle protagonist, Vladimir Girshkin, a 25-year-old employee at the fictional Emma Lazarus Immigrant Absorption Society in New York, has gone to Westchester to receive his perennial guilt trip and a free meal from his parents. Vladimir’s mother has become a moderately successful businesswoman in the U.S. after the family’s departure from their native Leningrad, the city from which Mr. Shteyngart himself emigrated when he was 7. When Vladimir attempts escape to catch the 4:51 train back to the city, his mother, drunk on rum, detains him and makes him pace the house’s master bedroom.
“You walk like a Jew,” she tells him. “I’ve been keeping my eyes on you for years, but it just hit me today, your little Jew-walk. Come here, I’ll teach you to walk like a normal person.” Vladimir braces himself for a long afternoon. Read More