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Culture

AUDIO: Gary Shteyngart In Conversation

Ten years ago I interviewed Gary Shteyngart for a profile in Zeek.. At the time his hair was brown and mine covered my head. In the time since then he has continued to put out books at a steady rate of one every three or four years, though “Little Failure” in 2014, was a comic autobiography rather than a fictional satire. His earlier novels (“Absurdistan” and “The Russian Debutante’s Handbook”) were about Americans’ crazy adventures in the disintegrating Soviet Empire. His most recent two novels “Super Sad True Love Story” and the current “Lake Success” deal with dystopian visions of America, especially related to the unhealthy distribution and importance of money and credit.

Once Shteyngart arrived at the Forward offices, I introduced him to our founding editor Ab Cahan (pictured), fed him and asked him whether he’d brought in a Jewish joke or story as I’d asked. He told me that he had given it some thought but had not managed to think of a suitable one. “I embody Jewish comedy,” he said in a self-disparaging tone. With that in mind, I sat down for an hour long chat with Shteyngart to discuss satire, parenthood, dystopias and the importance of living near Canada.

Produced by Jono Bernstein

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