Gary Shteyngart Tells a Brezhnev Joke

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Gary Shteyngart in the WNYC studios

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