Little Failure
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Little Failure

By (author) Gary Shteyngart

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"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"

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  • Hardback | 368 pages
  • 160.02 x 238.76 x 35.56mm | 566.99g
  • 01 Jul 2014
  • RANDOM HOUSE
  • English
  • CHAPTER-OPENING PHOTOS
  • 0679643753
  • 9780679643753
  • 132,705

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Author Information

Gary Shteyngart was born in Leningrad in 1972 and came to the United States seven years later. He is the author of the novels "Super Sad True Love Story," which won the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize and was selected as one of the best books of the year by more than forty news journals and magazines around the world; "Absurdistan," which was chosen as one of the ten best books of the year by "The New York Times Book Review "and "Time "magazine; and "The Russian Debutante's Handbook," winner of the Stephen Crane Award for First Fiction and the National Jewish Book Award for Fiction. His work has appeared in "The New Yorker," "Esquire," "GQ," "Travel + Leisure," "The New York Times Magazine," and many other publications and has been translated into twenty-six languages. Shteyngart lives in New York City.

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Review quote

"["Little Failure"] finds the delicate balance between sidesplitting and heartbreaking. . . . Long after the laughter fades, there lingers the image of a lonely, sickly child who learns to write to express a message 'both desperate and common' "'Please love me.' ""--"O: The Oprah Magazine" " " "Shteyngart's achingly honest, bittersweet comic memoir is a winner."--"Vanity Fair" " " "Poignant and ribald . . . [written with] hilarious, shimmering detail . . . ["Little Failure"] might just be the funniest, most unflinching memoir ever about coming to America."--"W Magazine" "Many, many people in this world have received blurbs from Gary Shteyngart, but I happen not to be one of them. So you can trust me when I say: "Little Failure" is a delight. You ask me if it's funny? Naturally it's funny--he's always funny. But this book is also a super sad true love story: between Gary and Lenin, Gary and his parents, Gary and women, Gary and food, Gary and America, Gary and Russia, Gary and the English language itself. And alongside the jokes and the (frankly unbelievable) photos, you'll find deep feeling on display, and shimmering sentences, and a marvel of a story. How did an asthmatic seven-year-old Jewish-Russian immigrant in a sailor suit become one of the most beloved of contemporary American writers? Not without struggle, both historical and personal, and with a great deal of humor and grit. But mostly through paying close attention: to the way people speak, move, love, and hurt each other. It's what gives his novels their joyful energy and what makes this memoir, in the opinion of this reader, his finest book yet."--Zadie Smith, "New York Times "bestselling author of "NW "and "White Teeth" "Gary Shteyngart has written a memoir for the ages. I spat laughter on the first page and closed the last with wet eyes. Unputdownable in the day and a half I spent reading it, "Little Failure" is a window into immigrant agony and ambition, Jewish angst, and

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