Gary Shteyngart is the author of two bestselling novels, The Russian Debutante’s Handbook (2003) and Absurdistan (2006). His upcoming novel, Super Sad True Love Story, will be published by Random House on July 27 and is one of the most anticipated books of 2010. Shteyngart’s work has also appeared in Granta, The New Yorker, The New York Times, and Slate. He is a contributing editor to Travel and Leisure.
Shteyngart was born in Leningrad in 1972 and moved to the United States when he was seven. He now lives in New York and is an Assistant Professor at Columbia University School of the Arts where he teaches fiction. He is the recipient of a painfully long list of literary awards and notable mentions.
Shteyngart’s pattern of choice is plaid. He dreams of owning a longhaired dachshund.
How do your parents feel about you being a writer? What did they think before you were published?
Bad! I kept having to tell them I was going to some kind of grad school. In Russian you say, “Who are you by profession,” and I had nothing to answer that question. So I kept having to send them brochures from grad programs, like the John F. Kennedy School, Urban Planning, Cornell, Columbia Master in International Affairs…just some kind of Masters Degree that would make them feel like I was doing something with my life.
There is a funny New York Times Magazine piece that appeared when my first book came out where they interview my parents and my mother is like: “Maybe he should have been an accountant? I bet he would have been a good accountant.” Now that I’m making money, they’re OK with it. I guess they are proud in a strange kind of way.