Little Failure

By Gary Shteyngart
(Random House, Hardcover, 9780679643753, 368pp.)

Publication Date: January 7, 2014

List Price: $27.00*
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Selected by Indie Booksellers for the January 2014 Indie Next List
“Bursting with insight, pathos, and Shteyngart's signature self-effacing humor, Little Failure brilliantly illustrates the struggles of an inveterate misfit from his early life in Soviet Russia to his youth in the United States. What sets this memoir apart is Shteyngart's sparkling wit and warmth, and a voice that invites the reader inside his world. Like his novels, Shteyngart's memoir displays an exhilarating mind at work and feels like a fresh, contemporary classic, an unforgettable lesson in growing into yourself and finding your own voice.”
-- Mark Haber, Brazos Bookstore, Houston, TX


Description

"NEW YORK TIMES" BESTSELLER - NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD FINALIST
NAMED ONE OF THE TEN BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY MICHIKO KAKUTANI, "THE NEW YORK TIMES" - NAMED ONE OF THE TEN BEST NONFICTION BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY "TIME"
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY MORE THAN 45 PUBLICATIONS, INCLUDING
"The New York Times Book Review - The Washington Post - "NPR" - The New Yorker - San Francisco Chronicle - The Economist - The Atlantic - Newsday - Salon - St. Louis Post-Dispatch - The Guardian - Esquire "(UK) - "GQ "(UK)
After three acclaimed novels, Gary Shteyngart turns to memoir in a candid, witty, deeply poignant account of his life so far. Shteyngart shares his American immigrant experience, moving back and forth through time and memory with self-deprecating humor, moving insights, and literary bravado. The result is a resonant story of family and belonging that feels epic and intimate and distinctly his own.
Born Igor Shteyngart in Leningrad during the twilight of the Soviet Union, the curious, diminutive, asthmatic boy grew up with a persistent sense of yearning--for food, for acceptance, for words--desires that would follow him into adulthood. At five, Igor wrote his first novel, "Lenin and His Magical Goose, "and his grandmother paid him a slice of cheese for every page.
In the late 1970s, world events changed Igor's life. Jimmy Carter and Leonid Brezhnev made a deal: exchange grain for the safe passage of Soviet Jews to America--a country Igor viewed as the enemy. Along the way, Igor became Gary so that he would suffer one or two fewer beatings from other kids. Coming to the United States from the Soviet Union was equivalent to stumbling off a monochromatic cliff and landing in a pool of pure Technicolor.
Shteyngart's loving but mismatched parents dreamed that he would become a lawyer or at least a "conscientious toiler" on Wall Street, something their distracted son was simply not cut out to do. Fusing English and Russian, his mother created the term "Failurchka"--Little Failure--which she applied to her son. With love. Mostly.
As a result, Shteyngart operated on a theory that he would fail at everything he tried. At being a writer, at being a boyfriend, and, most important, at being a worthwhile human being.
Swinging between a Soviet home life and American aspirations, Shteyngart found himself living in two contradictory worlds, all the while wishing that he could find a real home in one. And somebody to love him. And somebody to lend him sixty-nine cents for a McDonald's hamburger.
Provocative, hilarious, and inventive, "Little Failure" reveals a deeper vein of emotion in Gary Shteyngart's prose. It is a memoir of an immigrant family coming to America, as told by a lifelong misfit who forged from his imagination an essential literary voice and, against all odds, a place in the world.
Praise for "Little Failure"
"Hilarious and moving . . . The army of readers who love Gary Shteyngart is about to get bigger."--"The New York Times Book Review
"
"A memoir for the ages . . . brilliant and unflinching."--Mary Karr
"Dazzling . . . a rich, nuanced memoir . . . It's an immigrant story, a coming-of-age story, a becoming-a-writer story, and a becoming-a-mensch story, and in all these ways it is, unambivalently, a success."--Meg Wolitzer, NPR
"Literary gold . . . bruisingly funny."--"Vogue
"
"A giant success.""--Entertainment Weekly.




About the Author
Gary Shteyngart was born in Leningrad in 1972, and came to the United States seven years later. His novel, The Russian Debutante's Handbook, won the Stephen Crane Award for First Fiction, was named a New York Times Notable Book, and was chosen as a best book of the year by the Washington Post Book World and Entertainment Weekly. His work has appeared in The New Yorker, Granta, and many other publications. He lives in New York City.


NPR
Tuesday, Jan 7, 2014

In Little Failure, the novelist recounts his emigration from the USSR to the U.S. when he was 7. For the first few years, he says, he would sit alone in the school cafeteria, talking to himself in Russian "in this gigantic fur hat and fur coat." It wasn't long before a teacher advised, "Children won't play with you if you have that much fur on." More at NPR.org

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NPR
Wednesday, Jan 1, 2014

In 1979, Gary Shteyngart's family moved from Leningrad to Queens. Three decades later, he wrote a memoir about growing up in a Russian immigrant family in New York. Reviewer Meg Wolitzer says the book is full of rich, gratifying writing as well as pride, exuberance and sophisticated humor. More at NPR.org

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