Little Failure: A Memoir (Paperback)

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Indie Next List

January 2014
Bursting with insight, pathos, and Shteyngart's signature self-effacing humor, Little Failure brilliantly illustrates the struggles of an inveterate misfit from his early life in Soviet Russia to his youth in the United States. What sets this memoir apart is Shteyngart's sparkling wit and warmth, and a voice that invites the reader inside his world. Like his novels, Shteyngart's memoir displays an exhilarating mind at work and feels like a fresh, contemporary classic, an unforgettable lesson in growing into yourself and finding your own voice. -- Mark Haber, Brazos Bookstore, Houston, TX

Description


NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER | Named one of the best books of the year by Publishers Weekly | 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 | Longlisted for the JQ-Wingate Literary Prize

Little Failure is the all too true story of an immigrant family betting its future on America, as told by a lifelong misfit who finally finds a place for himself in the world through books and words. In 1979, a little boy dragging a ginormous fur hat and an overcoat made from the skin of some Soviet woodland creature steps off the plane at New York’s JFK International Airport and into his new American life. His troubles are just beginning. For the former Igor Shteyngart, coming to the United States from the Soviet Union is like stumbling off a monochromatic cliff and landing in a pool of Technicolor. Careening between his Soviet home life and his American aspirations, he finds himself living in two contradictory worlds, wishing for a real home in one. He becomes so strange to his parents that his mother stops bickering with his father long enough to coin the phrase failurchka—“little failure”—which she applies to her once-promising son. With affection. Mostly. From the terrors of Hebrew School to a crash course in first love to a return visit to the homeland that is no longer home, Gary Shteyngart has crafted a ruthlessly brave and funny memoir of searching for every kind of love—family, romantic, and of the self.

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
 
“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.”People

About the Author


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.

Praise for Little Failure: A Memoir…


“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 gnawing at the question of why two of the brilliant outliers of American writing were Russian immigrants. One, of course, was the great Vladimir Nabokov. The other is the youngish Shteyngart. They both have the qualities of sly humor, secret griefs.”San Francisco Chronicle

“Funny, heartbreaking and soul-baring  . . . [Shteyngart is] one of his generation’s most original and exhilarating writers.”The Seattle Times

“[A] stellar memoir.”Parade

“[Shteyngart] has dismantled the armor of his humor to give readers his most tender and affecting gift yet: himself.”The Boston Globe

“[Shteyngart’s] irrepressible humor disguises a Nabokovian love of the English language and an astute grasp of human psychology.”Newsweek

“Shteyngart uses his immigrant experience, together with some of the wisdom of Russia’s cultural past, to capture a generation of middle-class Americans . . . and give us a beautifully rendered world of orange-coloured cheese puffs and Cold War menace.”The Times Literary Supplement

“If you thought his fiction was funny, read Shteyngart’s memoir, Little Failure. As you might expect, he’s no less neurotic than his characters.”New York
 
“Frenetically funny, even overwhelmingly enjoyable.”Financial Times

“[Little Failure] should become a classic of the immigrant narrative genre.”The Miami Herald
 
“There is no better comic writer alive than Mr. Shteyngart. . . . And yet it’s [his] past, and the tension it creates with the cushy interior life that America affords, that makes him a much more interesting novelist than his American peers.”The New York Observer

“Ever wonder how a Russian émigré with a wicked sense of humor becomes a great American novelist? In his new memoir, Gary Shteyngart tells his craziest, funniest, super-saddest tale yet: his own.”—Francine Prose, Interview

“[Shteyngart’s] best work to date.”The Moscow Times

“Shteyngart seems to have made a deal with some minor devil (a daredevil?) stipulating that if he exposed every crack and fissure in himself, laid bare every misstep, f***up, and psychic flaw, his memoir would be a deep and original book. If so, the payoff here was absolutely worth it.”—Kate Christensen, Bookforum

“By turns naive and cynical, hyper-intelligent and comically immature, empathetic on the page and unfeeling off it, his self-portrait of a Soviet Jew transplanted aged seven from Leningrad to Eighties America is a masterpiece of comic deprecation.”The Telegraph (UK)

“This Shteyngart, sad and longing and desperate for connection (with his parents, with his readers), seems the most fully human person this author has ever created.”The Jewish Daily Forward
 
“The best memoirs are ones that are perfectly individuated, particular—and yet somehow speak to every reader’s life, every reader’s family. This is one of those rare books.”New Statesman

“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.”—Zadie Smith, New York Times bestselling author of NW and White Teeth
 
Little Failure is told with fearlessness, wisdom and the wit that you’d expect from one of America’s funniest novelists.”—Carl Hiaasen, New York Times bestselling author of Bad Monkey
 
“Portnoy meets Chekhov meets Shteyngart! What could be better?”—Adam Gopnik, New York Times bestselling author of The Table Comes First and Paris to the Moon

“If you, like me, have often wondered, ‘How did Gary Shteyngart get like that?,’ Little Failure is the heartfelt, moving, and truly engaging memoir that explains it all. Dr. Freud would be proud.”—Nathan Englander, author of What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank

Product Details ISBN-10: 0812982495
ISBN-13: 9780812982497
Published: Random House Trade Paperbacks, 10/07/2014
Pages: 384
Language: English


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