Critically acclaimed and New York Times bestselling writer Gary Shteyngart wins over readers with humor, satirical takedowns of contemporary society, and a compassionate examination of modern love and loss. Author of the novels The Russian Debutante’s Handbook, Absurdistan, and Super Sad True Love Story, and most recently the memoir Little Failure, Shteyngart will speak at Vassar on Thursday, March 27, at 8:00pm, in the Students' Building second floor auditorium. This event is the college’s annual Alex Krieger ’95 Memorial Lecture, and will include Steyngart reading from his work and answering questions from the audience. It is free and open to the public with seating on a first-come first-served basis.
Russian-born Shteyngart shares his American immigrant experience in Little Failure, which fellow bestselling author Mary Karr (Lit, The Liars’ Club) described as, “a memoir for the ages. I spat laughter on the first page and closed the last with wet eyes. Unputdownable in the day and a half I spent reading it, Little Failure is a window into immigrant agony and ambition, Jewish angst, and anybody’s desperate need for a tribe.” Fellow author Zadie Smith (On Beauty, White Teeth) added, “Many, many people in this world have received blurbs from Gary Shteyngart, but I happen not to be one of them. So you can trust me when I say: Little Failure is a delight. You ask me if it’s funny? Naturally it’s funny – he’s always funny. But this book is also a super sad true love story: between Gary and Lenin, Gary and his parents, Gary and women, Gary and food, Gary and America, Gary and Russia, Gary and the English language itself.”
Smith is referring to Shteyngart’s popular collection of book jacket blurbs that have earned him the tongue-in-cheek title of “master blurber” in the literary world, such as his comments about Charles Blackstone’s book Vintage Attraction: “It’s so post-post-modern it’s almost pre-modern. I read it on a stone tablet and loved every word” (http://shteyngartblurbs.tumblr.com/). He has also gained fame for the quirky “trailer” videos produced to publicize his books, where he’s co-starred with James Franco, Rashida Jones, Paul Giamatti, James Franzen, Jay McInerney, Thessaly La Force and other notables (http://www.rhspeakers.com/speaker/gary-shteyngart/?v=videos).
“It’s not easy to summarize Shteyngart; there’s so much satirical gunpowder packed into every sentence that the effect gets lost in the short version,” said Time magazine’s coverage of Super Sad True Love Story. “But basically, this is a love story [that is] ridiculously witty and painfully prescient, but more than either of those, it’s romantic.” His novel Absurdistan was chosen as one of the 10 best books of 2006 by both The New York Times Book Review and Time, and he was named a Granta “Best Young American Novelist” as well as a New Yorker “Best Writer Under 40.” His writing has also appeared in The New Yorker, Travel + Leisure, Esquire, GQ, The New York Times Magazine, and many other publications, and his books have been translated into twenty-six languages.
ABOUT THE ALEX KRIEGER ’95 MEMORIAL LECTURE
This annual lecture series is given in memory of a Vassar student, Alex Krieger, who was killed in an automobile accident during the spring of his freshman year. One of Krieger’s keenest interests was distinguished American writing that incorporates humor as a primary element. In consultation with his family, Vassar has invited outstanding American writers and humorists to deliver the annual speech, including Tom Wolfe, Wendy Wasserstein, John Irving, P. J. O’Rourke, Calvin Trillin, Jules Fieffer, Oliver Sacks, Tony Kushner, David Sedaris, Michael Chabon, Sarah Vowell, Gail Collins, Augusten Burroughs, Frank Rich, Ira Glass, Andy Borowitz, and most recently Mo Rocca.
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