Gary Shteyngart

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Gary Shteyngart
Gary Shteyngart at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books
Gary Shteyngart at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books
BornIgor Semyonovich Shteyngart[1]
(1972-07-05) July 5, 1972 (age 51)[2]
Leningrad, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union (present-day Saint Petersburg, Russia)
SpouseEsther Won

Gary Shteyngart (English: /ˈʃtnɡɑːrt/; born July 5, 1972) is a Soviet-born American writer. He is the author of five novels (including Absurdistan and Super Sad True Love Story) and a memoir. Much of his work is satirical.

Early life[edit]

Born Igor Semyonovich Shteyngart[1] (Russian: Игорь Семёнович Штейнгарт) in the Soviet Union, he 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—which he alternately calls "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. When he was five, he wrote a 100-page comic novel.[4]

Shteyngart immigrated to the United States in 1979 and was brought up in Queens, New York,[5] 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.[6]

He is a graduate of Stuyvesant High School[7] in New York City, and Oberlin College in Ohio, where he earned a degree in politics, in 1995,[8] with a senior thesis on the former Soviet republics of Georgia, Moldova and Tajikistan.[5]


After Oberlin, he worked a series of jobs, as a writer, for non-profit organizations in New York.[5][9]

Shteyngart took a trip to Prague in the early 1990s,[10] and this experience helped spawn his first novel, The Russian Debutante's Handbook, set in the fictitious European city of Prava.[5]

In 1999, as part of the application to Hunter College's MFA program[4] he mailed a portion of his first novel to Chang-Rae Lee, the director of the creative writing program at Hunter College.[10] Lee helped Shteyngart get his first book deal.[11] Shteyngart earned an MFA in creative writing at Hunter College of the City University of New York. Shteyngart had a fellowship at the American Academy in Berlin, Germany, for Fall 2007.[12] He has taught writing at Hunter College, and currently teaches writing at Columbia University.


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[13] for Fiction. It was named a New York Times Notable Book and one of the best debuts of the year by The Guardian [14]

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.[15] 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).[16][17]


Shteyngart's novels include The Russian Debutante's Handbook (2002), and Absurdistan (2006). Super Sad True Love Story (2010) was promoted by a film trailer with Paul Giamatti and James Franco.[18][19] Thirty-five years after he emigrated to the U.S., in January, 2014, Random House published Little Failure: A Memoir,[20] and promoted it by a film trailer with James Franco and Rashida Jones.[17][21] His 2018 book, Lake Success was promoted by a film trailer with Ben Stiller.[22][23]

His fifth novel, Our Country Friends, was published by Random House in 2021. It is a story about friends who spend the pandemic together.[24][25] His other writing has appeared in The New Yorker,[26] Slate, Granta,[27] Travel and Leisure,[28] and The New York Times.[29]


Shteyngart has also become known for his prolific blurbing,[30][31] which has inspired a Tumblr website devoted to his Collected Blurbs,[32] a live reading,[33] and a fifteen-minute documentary narrated by Jonathan Ames.[34]



  • Shteyngart, Gary (2002). The Russian debutante's handbook. New York: Riverhead Books.
  • — (2006). Absurdistan. New York: Random House.
  • — (2010). Super sad love story.
  • — (2018). Lake Success.
  • — (2021). Our country friends.


Essays and reporting[edit]


  1. ^ Online version is titled "Confessions of a watch geek".

Personal life[edit]

Shteyngart is married to Esther Won, who is of Korean descent. They have a son, born October 2013.[35] Shteyngart now lives in the Gramercy neighborhood of Manhattan.[31][36] He spends six months out of the year at a house in northern Dutchess County, in the Hudson River Valley where he does nearly all of his writing.[37][29][38][39][28][40]


  1. ^ a b Lambert, Josh. "The True Name of Gary". Retrieved 2012-12-13. Interview with Shteyngart.
  2. ^ "Gary Shteyngart".
  3. ^ Gritz, Jennie Rothenberg (15 June 2006). "Same Planet, Different Worlds". The Atlantic.
  4. ^ a b "Tuesday Jul. 5, 2016". The Writer's Almanac with Garrison Keillor. Retrieved 26 September 2018.
  5. ^ a b c d Natasha Grinberg. "Can't Live Long Without Writing: A Conversation with Gary Shteyngart". Retrieved 26 September 2018.
  6. ^ Pilkington, Ed (June 29, 2007). "Russian revolution". The Guardian. London. Retrieved May 3, 2010.
  7. ^ Young, Liza (May 2006). "The Metamorphosis of a Writer: An Interview with Gary Shteyngart". Education Update. Retrieved 2007-11-01.
  8. ^ "Oberlin Alumni Magazine : Winter 2002-2003". Retrieved 26 September 2018.
  9. ^ Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society
  10. ^ a b Zalewski, Daniel (2 June 2002). "From Russia With Tsoris". The New York Times. Retrieved 26 September 2018.
  11. ^ "Pigging Out With Writers Gary Shteyngart and Chang-rae Lee". 7 January 2014. Retrieved 26 September 2018.
  12. ^ "Citigroup Distinguished Visitor, Class of Fall 2007". American Academy in Berlin. Archived from the original on 2015-05-24. Retrieved March 11, 2012.
  13. ^ "Past Winners - Fiction". Jewish Book Council. Retrieved 2020-01-20.
  14. ^ "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
  15. ^ Bosman, Julie (June 2, 2010). "20 Young Writers Earn the Envy of Many Others". The New York Times.
  16. ^ "National Book Critics Circle Announces Finalists for Publishing Year 2014". National Book Critics Circle. January 19, 2015. Archived from the original on January 22, 2015. Retrieved January 29, 2015.
  17. ^ a b Random House (14 December 2013). "Little Failure by Gary Shteyngart - Book Trailer" – via YouTube.
  18. ^ Random House (7 July 2010). "SUPER SAD TRUE LOVE STORY by Gary Shteyngart (book trailer)". Archived from the original on 2021-12-21. Retrieved 26 September 2018 – via YouTube.
  19. ^ Random House (20 May 2011). "Super Sad True Book Club, with Paul Giamatti and Gary Shteyngart". Archived from the original on 2021-12-21. Retrieved 26 September 2018 – via YouTube.
  20. ^ "Little Failure by Gary Shteyngart". Random House/Bertelsmann. Retrieved 4 January 2014.
  21. ^ Random House (14 August 2018). "Be recruited by Ben Stiller and Gary Shteyngart! - Book Trailer for Lake Success" – via YouTube.
  22. ^ Random House (14 August 2018). "Be recruited by Ben Stiller and Gary Shteyngart! (Book Trailer for Lake Success)" – via YouTube.
  23. ^ The Daily Beast (23 July 2010). "Gary Shteyngart on Getting Jay McInerney and James Franco in his Book Trailer". Archived from the original on 2021-12-21. Retrieved 26 September 2018 – via YouTube.
  24. ^ OUR COUNTRY FRIENDS | Kirkus Reviews.
  25. ^ "Gary Shteyngart, Our Country Friends: A Novel". MJCCA. Retrieved 2021-10-28.
  26. ^ "Gary Shteyngart - Contributors". The New Yorker. Retrieved 26 September 2018.
  27. ^ Shteyngart, Gary. "Over There". Granta.[dead link]
  28. ^ a b Shteyngart, Gary. "Escape to New York's Hudson Valley". Travel and Leisure.
  29. ^ a b Shteyngart, Gary (16 July 2010). "Only Disconnect". The New York Times.
  30. ^ "An Open Letter from Gary Shteyngart". The New Yorker. 14 April 2014.
  31. ^ a b "Author Gary Shteyngart Blurbs Real Estate Company on Yelp". 20 December 2013. Retrieved 26 September 2018.
  32. ^ Silverman, Jacob (January 5, 2013). "The Collected Blurbs of Gary Shteyngart". Retrieved January 5, 2013.
  33. ^ Diamond, Jason (October 9, 2012). "Vol. 1 Brooklyn Presents: The Collected Blurbs of Gary Shteyngart, Live". Retrieved January 5, 2013.
  34. ^ Champion, Edward (January 3, 2013). "Shteyngart Blurbs: A Documentary". Archived from the original on 2021-12-21. Retrieved January 5, 2013.
  35. ^ "Fiction into Fact: Gary Shteyngart".
  36. ^ Oppenheimer, Mark. "Six Degrees of Treyf: An Interview With Gary Shteyngart". Retrieved 26 September 2018.
  37. ^ Mahoney, Brian K. "Ben Stiller Stars in Gary Shteyngart Book Trailer".
  38. ^ "Gary Shteyngart Tells the Truth". Newsweek. 8 January 2014.
  39. ^ "Café Society". 31 July 2018.
  40. ^ Kaufman, Joanne (21 August 2018). "Gary Shteyngart's Year-Round Dacha". The New York Times. Retrieved 26 September 2018.


External links[edit]