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.
It's a dog's life
Author Gary Shteyngart’s dachshund wrote to BAM to express his canine concern about his owner at the upcoming Gary Shtenygart Roast, a “Friar’s Club style” roast where Mr. Shtenygart’s friends will take shots at the writer to mark the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the publication of The Russian Debutante’s Handbook.
“Last night, while my favorite human Gary Shteyngart was dripping gherkin juice and pickled cod balls onto his green polyester shirt, I noticed a tear trickling down his face,” wrote Felix the dachsund, in remarkably similar prose to his human owner. “I peered over his slumped shoulder and saw on the interwebs that in a couple weeks, some famous people are gathering at BAM to make fun of him.”
Paul LaFarge’s new novel, Luminous Airplanes, is both a regularly formatted novel and an online “hyperromance” (for more on what that means read the history he just wrote over at Salon). For his book party then, he decided he couldn’t just have cheese cubes, wine and the usual sidelong glances and gossip. Instead he organized a participatory experience of his work that was something between a haunted house and a contemporary art installation.
They summer in the colonies, the writers of New York, scattering forth to the hills as the days grow more sultry: to Yaddo, to MacDowell, to Millay and Ledig House! They go to work, of course, to work uninterruptedly and produce literary classics, and then, after all that exhaustive working, to play Ping-Pong and drink. Read More
The Morning News today posted an interview with super-acclaimed Super Sad Love Story novelist Gary Shteyngart in which the “very tired” Manhattan writer opines on taking Atavan to sleep, his favorite season of “The Wire,” and why the information age is dooming us.
“The society we live in is so stressful,” he said. Read More
On Saturday afternoon, a security guard sat in the back seat of an idling white jeep, watching over a 2.1-acre patch of dirt near the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn. There was an overflowing can of garbage next to the car’s front bumper and a puddle of groundwater nearby. Just across the canal, against the backdrop Read More
Today: The Times Book Review gets its hands on Super Sad True Love Story. According to Michael Wood, “The sheer exhilaration of the writing in this book … is itself a sort of answer to the flattened-out horrors of the world it depicts.”
Previously this summer:
- Michiko Kakutani Read More
When they join forces, Gary Shteyngart and James Franco are an unstoppable publicity machine: they have spent the last several weeks ably demonstrating this. According to a new interview at the Huffington Post, the double-act dates back to their classroom days.
“It was kind of a Read More
Books & Booze
Last night, Brooke Geahan, the founder of the Accompanied Literary Society, who has been living in London for the past year and not hosting her usual literary gatherings, organized a book party for Gary Shteyngart’s new novel, Super Sad True Love Story, at her home downtown.
“It’s stressful having people at your house,” Read More
Tea Obreht is the latest of the “20 Under 40” to see her story in The New Yorker—and she’s also the youngest. She’s 25 (24 when the list came out) and won’t publish her first book until next spring. Probably even Sam Tanenhaus considers her Read More