Gary Shteyngart

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Gary Shteyngart
Gary Shteyngart at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books
Gary Shteyngart at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books
Born Igor Shteyngart[1]
(1972-07-05) July 5, 1972 (age 46)[2]
Leningrad, USSR
Occupation Novelist
Nationality United States
Spouse Esther Won

Gary Shteyngart (born Igor Semyonovich Shteyngart; July 5, 1972) is an American writer born in Leningrad, USSR. Much of his work is satirical.


Shteyngart spent the first seven years of his childhood living in a square dominated by a huge statue of Vladimir Lenin in what is now St. Petersburg, Russia (he alternately calls it "St. Leningrad" or "St. Leninsburg"). He comes from a Jewish family, with an ethnically Russian maternal grandparent,[3] and describes his family as typically Soviet. His father worked as an engineer in a LOMO camera factory; his mother was a pianist. Shteyngart immigrated to the United States in 1979 and was brought up with no television in the apartment in which he lived, where English was not the household language. He did not shed his thick Russian accent until the age of 14.[4]

Shteyngart took a trip to Prague, and this experience helped spawn his first novel, The Russian Debutante's Handbook, set in the fictitious European city of Prava. He is a graduate of Stuyvesant High School[5] in New York City, Oberlin College in Ohio, where he earned a degree in politics, and Hunter College of the City University of New York, where he earned an MFA in Creative Writing.

Shteyngart now lives in the Gramercy neighborhood of Manhattan. He has taught writing at Hunter College, and currently teaches writing at Columbia University.

Shteyngart had a fellowship at the American Academy in Berlin, Germany, for Fall 2007.[6]


Shteyngart's work has received numerous awards. The Russian Debutante's Handbook won the Stephen Crane Award for First Fiction, the Book-of-the-Month Club First Fiction Award and the National Jewish Book Award for Fiction. It was named a New York Times Notable Book and one of the best debuts of the year by The Guardian [7] In 2002, he was named one of the five best new writers by Shout NY Magazine. Absurdistan was chosen as one of the ten best books of the year by The New York Times Book Review and Time magazine, as well as a book of the year by the Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle and many other publications. In June 2010, Shteyngart was named as one of The New Yorker magazine's "20 under 40" luminary fiction writers.[8] Super Sad True Love Story won the 2011 Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for comic literature. His memoir Little Failure was a finalist for the 2014 National Book Critics Circle Award (Autobiography).[9]


Shteyngart's novels include The Russian Debutante's Handbook (2002), Absurdistan (2006), and Super Sad True Love Story (2010). His other writing has appeared in The New Yorker, Slate, Granta, Travel and Leisure, and The New York Times.

His latest book, Little Failure: A Memoir, was published by Random House in January, 2014, thirty-five years after he emigrated to the U.S.[10]


Shteyngart has also become known for his prolific blurbing, which has inspired a Tumblr devoted to his Collected Blurbs[11] , a live reading,[12] and a fifteen-minute documentary narrated by Jonathan Ames.[13]





Essays and reporting[edit]

Personal life[edit]

Shteyngart is married to Esther Won, who is of Korean descent. In October 2013, they became parents to Johnny Won Shteyngart.[14]


  1. ^ Lambert, Josh. "The True Name of Gary". Retrieved 2012-12-13.  Interview with Shteyngart.
  2. ^ "Gary Shteyngart". 
  3. ^
  4. ^ Pilkington, Ed (June 29, 2007). "Russian revolution". The Guardian. London. Retrieved May 3, 2010. 
  5. ^ Young, Liza (May 2006). "The Metamorphosis of a Writer: An Interview with Gary Shteyngart". Education Update. Retrieved 2007-11-01. 
  6. ^ "Citigroup Distinguished Visitor, Class of Fall 2007". American Academy in Berlin. Archived from the original on 2015-05-24. Retrieved March 11, 2012. 
  7. ^ "Gary Shteyngart - Faculty". The Creative Writing Program at Columbia University. Archived from the original on May 13, 2011. Retrieved 2012-12-15.  snapshot 2011-05-13 at
  8. ^ Bosman, Julie (June 2, 2010). "20 Young Writers Earn the Envy of Many Others". The New York Times. 
  9. ^ "National Book Critics Circle Announces Finalists for Publishing Year 2014". National Book Critics Circle. January 19, 2015. Retrieved January 29, 2015. 
  10. ^ "Little Failure by Gary Shteyngart". Random House/Bertelsmann. Retrieved 4 January 2014. 
  11. ^ Silverman, Jacob (January 5, 2013). The Collected Blurbs of Gary Shteyngart Retrieved January 5, 2013.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  12. ^ Diamond, Jason (October 9, 2012). "Vol. 1 Brooklyn Presents: The Collected Blurbs of Gary Shteyngart, Live". Retrieved January 5, 2013. 
  13. ^ Champion, Edward (January 3, 2013). Shteyngart Blurbs: A Documentary Retrieved January 5, 2013.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  14. ^

Further reading[edit]

  • Law, Benjamin (Sep 2014). "10 things I believe [interview with Gary Shteyngart]". Smith Journal. 12: 22–24. 

External links[edit]