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Little Failure

A Memoir

By Gary Shteyngart, 1972-

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR “SO FAR” BY TIME AND THE WASHINGTON POST • NAMED ONE OF KIRKUS REVIEWS’ “NEW BOOKS DESTINED TO BECOME CLASSICS” • SHORTLISTED FOR THE SPEAR’S BOOK AWARD IN MEMOIR

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 . . .  [a] bruisingly funny memoir.”Vogue
 
“A giant success.”—Entertainment Weekly
 
“[Little Failure] finds the delicate balance between sidesplitting and heartbreaking.”—O: The Oprah Magazine

“Should become a classic of the immigrant narrative genre.”—The Miami Herald

Format

Book

More Formats

Ebook

Little failure : a memoir

Availability

1 available at Ballentine
  • B Shteyngart, Biography

Publish Date

2014

ISBN

9780679643753


Format: Book
Author: Shteyngart, Gary, 1972-
Summary: "... 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."-- Publisher's description.
Title: Little failure : a memoir / Gary Shteyngart.
Publisher Date: New York : Random House, [2014]
Subject: Shteyngart, Gary, 1972- Authors, American -- 21st century -- Biography.
Isbn: 9780679643753 (acid-free paper) 0679643753 (acid-free paper)
Current Holds: 0
System Items Available: 1
System Items Total: 4
Call Number: B Shteyngart
Oclc: 841557764
Upc:
Bib Id: 491421

Format: Book
Author: Shteyngart, Gary, 1972-
Summary: "... 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."-- Publisher's description.
Title: Little failure : a memoir / Gary Shteyngart.
Edition: First edition.
Publisher, Date: New York : Random House, [2014]
Description: 349 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
Subjects: Shteyngart, Gary, 1972-
Subjects: Authors, American -- 21st century -- Biography.
LCCN: 2013013217
ISBN: 9780679643753 (acid-free paper)
ISBN: 0679643753 (acid-free paper)
Requests: 0
Available Copies: 1
Total Copies: 4
Call Number: B Shteyngart