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Born in Leningrad, Gary Shteyngart came to the United States when he was seven. Being Jewish in the former Soviet Union was a daily liability for his family, and, according to Shteyngart, the strain of living under an authoritarian regime is something they will never fully recover from. In darkly satirical novels like The Russian Debutante’s Handbook, Absurdistan, and Super Sad True Love Story, Shteyngart addresses authoritarianism, class disparity, and the immigrant experience, with remarkable humor and insight. The protagonist in his newest novel, Lake Success, is a narcissistic, self-deluded financial whiz running away from work and family while life keeps getting its digs in. “Gary Shteyngart has held up a mirror to American culture that is so accurate, and so devastating, that it makes you want to break the mirror right over your own head. I mean this as a good thing” (Elizabeth Gilbert).
Isabel Duffy spent over ten years working in publishing and has interviewed many authors for City Arts & Lectures, including Anthony Bourdain, Michael Chabon, Zadie Smith, and John Waters. She has contributed to The Believer magazine and is trained as a psychotherapist.
Photo Credit: Brigitte Lacombe