• Birth—July 5, 1972
• Where—Leningrad, USSR
• Education—B.A., Oberlin College (Ohio); M.F.A.,
Hunter College (NYC)
• Awards—Stephen Crane Award; National Jewish
• Currently—lives in New York, New York
Gary Shteyngart (born Igor Semyonovich Shteyngart) is an American writer born in Leningrad, USSR. Much of his work is satirical and relies on the invention of elaborately fictitious yet somehow familiar places and times.
Shteyngart spent the first seven years of his childhood living in a square dominated by a huge statue of Vladimir Lenin in what is now St. Petersburg, Russia; (he alternately calls it "St. Leningrad" or "St. Leninsburg"). He comes from a Jewish family and describes his family as typically Soviet. His father worked as an engineer in a LOMO camera factory; his mother was a pianist.
In 1979 when Gary was 7, the Shteyngart family immigrated to the United States, where he was brought up with no television in his family's New York City apartment and where English was not the household language. He did not shed his thick Russian accent until the age of 14.
Later Shteyngart traveled to Prague, an experience that inspired his first novel, set in the fictitious European city of Prava. He is a graduate of Stuyvesant High School in New York City; Oberlin College in Ohio, where he earned a degree in politics; and Hunter College of the City University of New York, where he earned an MFA in Creative Writing.
Shteyngart took a trip to Prague which inspired his first novel, The Russian Debutante's Handbook (2002), which is set in the fictitious European city of Prava. He has published two more novels: Absurdistan (2006) and Super Sad True Love Story (2010). His fourth book, Little Failure (2014), is a memoir recounting his family's emigration to the U.S. in 1979.
His other writing has appeared in The New Yorker, Slate, Granta, Travel and Leisure, and The New York Times.
Shteyngart's work has received numerous awards. The Russian Debutante's Handbook won the Stephen Crane Award for First Fiction, the Book-of-the-Month Club First Fiction Award and the National Jewish Book Award for Fiction. It was named a New York Times Notable Book and one of the best debuts of the year by The Guardian. In 2002, he was named one of the five best new writers by Shout NY Magazine. Absurdistan was chosen as one of the ten best books of the year by the New York Times Book Revieww and Time magazine, as well as a book of the year by the Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle and many other publications. In June 2010, Shteyngart was named as one of The New Yorker magazine's "20 under 40" luminary fiction writers. Super Sad True Love Story won the 2011 Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for comic literature.
Shteyngart now lives in New York City. He has taught writing at Hunter College, and currently teaches writing at Columbia University. During the Fall of 2007, he also had a fellowship at the American Academy in Berlin, Germany.
Shteyngart is married to Esther Won who is of Korean descent. In October 2013, they became parents to Johnny Won Shteyngart. (Adapted from Wikipedia. Retrieved 2/14/2014.)
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