Gary Shteyngart: Not Such A Little Failure

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The novelist Gary Shteyngart was born in the Soviet Union in 1971. Little Igor, as he was known then, immigrated to the U.S. when he was seven-years-old with his parents, who renamed him Gary so he'd "suffer one or two fewer beatings" at the hands of his new American counterparts.

He says the transatlantic move was like going from a monochromatic world to blinding technicolor. And it wasn’t easy: Shteyngart says he was "the second most hated kid" at his Jewish elementary school in Queens, New York; bullied for his bad English and furry coat.

His new memoir, "Little Failure", traces his unlikely evolution from an asthmatic Lenin-lover in the USSR, through his adolescence and coming-of-age as a Stuyvesant high school stoner, unlucky-in-love Oberlin college burnout to finally, a successful novelist.

And as with all Shteyngart's books to date — The Russian Debutante's Handbook, Absurdistan and Super Sad True Love Story — there are tough-loving Russian parents critiquing his every move.


This segment aired on January 23, 2014.


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