Gary Shteyngart Tells a Brezhnev Joke

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Novelist Gary Shteyngart shares his American immigrant experience and family history in Little Failure: A Memoir. Born Igor Shteyngart in Leningrad during the waning days of the Soviet Union, he immigrated with his parents in the late 1970s after President Carter made a deal to trade grain for Soviet Jews. Small and asthmatic, he became the second most hated boy in his Queens Hebrew school. He talks about his earliest stories, which his grandmother rewarded for with cheese, makes Leonard laugh with an old joke about Brezhnev, and admits that writing a memoir was a challenge because all writers are liars. 




















Gary Shteyngart when he was here for the Leonard Lopate Show Book Club in 2012.

The book trailer for Little Failure


Gary Shteyngart

Comments [8]

Inna from New York

Gary might seem oddly original to an American audience, but he is a very typical Russian intellectual mean spirited male in a continuous cycle of shitting all over everything and everyone around him, in a rather exquisite humorous form.

Jan. 08 2014 10:58 PM
art525 from Park Slope

I don't get it because he's just not funny.

Jan. 07 2014 05:58 PM

I love his "Super Sad Story".

He is very funny, and if you guys don't get it, it is because of, as Pelevin wrote in "Generation P", cultural references.

I also believe, that if his family stayed in the USSR, he would still be straight.

Jan. 07 2014 02:01 PM
jglennny from Greenwood, Bklyn

I laughed the entire time. Mr. Lopate is a Johnny Carson-level straight man in these situations. Mazel tov.

Jan. 07 2014 01:54 PM

Oy, vey!

An old Soviet joke:

"Aunt Chaya, your son Moishe is sleeping with a homosexual!"

She cries for a while then asks - "This homosexual, is he a nice Jewish boy?"

Jan. 07 2014 01:34 PM
art525 from Park Slope

He was described as being funny but I heard no evidence to support that.

Jan. 07 2014 01:32 PM
Jack from Manhattan

Tell me this guy is not as insufferable in the studio as he sounds over the air.

Jan. 07 2014 01:29 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

Russia got bread and we got more left wing scribblers. I think Russia got the better of the deal.

Jan. 07 2014 01:18 PM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.