Little Failure
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Little Failure

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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"show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 368 pages
  • 160.02 x 238.76 x 35.56mm | 566.99g
  • RANDOM HOUSE
  • United States
  • English
  • CHAPTER-OPENING PHOTOS
  • 0679643753
  • 9780679643753
  • 180,727

Review quote

Advance praise for "Little Failure" " " "A surefire hit."--"Library Journal" Praise for Gary Shteyngart Super Sad True Love Story "Wonderful . . . [combines] the tenderness of the Chekhovian tradition with the hormonal high jinks of a Judd Apatow movie."--Michiko Kakutani, "The New York Times" "An intoxicating brew of keen-edged satire, social prophecy, linguistic exuberance, and emotional wallop . . . The American novel is safe in Gary Shteyngart's gifted hands."--David Mitchell "Exuberant and devastating . . . a wildly funny book that hums with the sheer vibrancy of Shteyngart's prose . . . He can make you laugh and ache with a single line.""--San Francisco Chronicle" " " Absurdistan "[Shteyngart]""nails the tragicomedy of foreign relations. . . . Profoundly funny, genuinely moving and wholly lovable."--"Time" "One of the funniest books in recent memory . . . Read "Absurdistan "for Shteyngart's exuberant, wise, hilarious voice. . . . The novel is a long, funny, heartbreaking lament for home, whatever that means, and wherever that might be."--"Los Angeles Times Book Review" " " The Russian Debutante's Handbook "Shteyngart has given us a literary symbol for this new immigrant age, much as Saul Bellow or Henry Roth did in theirs."--"The Washington Post" "The rampaging narrative is festooned on every page with glittering one-liners, improbably apt similes, and other miniature pleasures."--"Elle"show more

About Gary Shteyngart

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.show more

Review Text

"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 "Funny, unflinching, and, title notwithstanding, a giant success . . . The innate humor of Shteyngart's storytelling is dotted with touching sadness, all of it amounting to an engrossing look at his distinct, multilayered Gary-ness." - Entertainment Weekly "[ Little Failure ] finds the delicate balance between sidesplitting and heartbreaking." - O: The Oprah Magazine "An ecstatic depiction of survival, guilt and perseverance . . . Russia gave birth to that master of English-language prose named Vladimir Nabokov. Half a century later, another writer who grew up with Cyrillic characters is gleefully writing American English as vivid, original and funny as any that contemporary U.S. literature has to offer." - Los Angeles Times "The very best memoirs perfectly toe the line between heartbreak and humor, and Shteyngart does just that." - Esquire "Touching, insightful . . . [Shteyngart] nimbly achieves the noble Nabokovian goal of letting sentiment in without ever becoming sentimental." - The Washington Post "[Shteyngart is] a successor to no less than Saul Bellow and Philip Roth." - The Christian Science Monitor "Moving . . . and laugh-out-loud funny." - USA Today "Might just be the funniest, most unflinching memoir ever about coming to America." - W Magazine "Hilarious . . . an affectionate take on growing up in gray Leningrad and Technicolor Queens." - People "[ Little Failure ] feels essential, as the document of a way of life that's less and less accessible in our parenting-manual era. Shteyngart was the child of Russian immigrants whose overzealous attention shaped him, for better and worse. Little Failure helps us understand Shteyngart better, but you don't need to have read any of his novels to appreciate his frankness and insight." - Time "A deeply moving love letter to Mr. Shteyngart's life and everything in it: America, Russia, literature, women and his parents." - The Economist " Little Failure is terrific - the author's funniest, saddest and most honest work to date. [It's] a powerful and often moving portrait of a troubled man's creative origins, comparable in intent (and sometimes in quality) to some of the genre's high-water marks, and owing particular debts to W. G. Sebald, Thomas Bernhard and, most significantly, Vladimir Nabokov, whose name Shteyngart often invokes." - The Guardian (UK) "[A] keenly observed tale of exile, coming-of-age and family love: It's raw, comic and deeply affecting, a testament to Mr. Shteyngart's abilities to write with both self-mocking humor and introspective wisdom, sharp-edged sarcasm and aching - and yes, Chekhovian - tenderness." - Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times "What a beautiful mess! . . . [Shteyngart has] not just his own distinct identity, but all the loose ends and unresolved contradictions out of which great literature is made." - Charles Simic, The New York Review of Books "Shteyngart is a great writer - there's no arguing his literary merit - but he's also very, very funny, which is a rare quality in literature these days." - GQ "Shteyngart's achingly honest, bittersweet comic memoir is a winner." - Vanity Fair " Little Failure . . . puts the lure in failure." - The Wall Street Journal "A near-perfect account of the churning state of one man's inner life." - The Sunday Times (London) "[Shteyngart is] the Chekhov-Roth-Apatow of Queens." - The Millions "Surely some enterprising scholar is already gnshow more