Literary Lion: 5 Questions with Novelist Gary Shteyngart

March 27, 2015

Photo by Brigitte Lacombe


Associate Professor Gary Shteyngart was born in Leningrad in 1972 and came to the United States seven years later. He released his debut memoir, Little Failure, in 2014, to much critical acclaim. He is also the award-winning author of the novels Super Sad True Love Story, Absurdistan and The Russian Debutante’s Handbook. His work has been translated into 26 languages. Shteyngart’s fiction and essays have appeared in the The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, Granta, Esquire and many other publications.

Q. How do you straddle the intersection of teaching and writing?

Teaching students reminds you of why you started writing in the first place. There's nothing like sharing your craft with the next generation of writers.

Q. How important to the craft of writing is reading?

It's all about reading. Read more than you write, is what I tell writers starting out.

Q. Do you focus on one particular kind of writing or can you easily switch genres?

It's easy to switch between fiction and nonfiction. Just make sure the writing is good.

Q. How does living and working in New York influence your writing?

New York is a little much in that sense. I do most of my writing in my country place upstate.

Q. What are you working on now?

A thriller!

— Interviewed by Eve Glasberg