The John Adams Institute, in co-operation with Prometheus Publishing House, proudly presented Gary Shteyngart, the author of The Russian Debutante’s Handbook (published by Riverhead Books), translated into Dutch under the title Handboek voor de Russische Debutante. Herman Stevens, novelist and literary critic for HP De Tijd, introduced Gary Shteyngart and interviewed him following his reading.
The debutante in Gary Shteyngart’s first novel is Vladimir Girshkin, clearly in need of a handbook detailing directions to find his way into the labyrinth between two identities. The novel follows Girshkin’s wild chase from non-profit drudgery at an immigration organization in Manhattan to an entanglement with Russian mobsters in the mythical Eastern European Prava. ‘What does it mean in the grasping, topsy-turvy post-cold-war world to be a Russian, an American, a Jew? This novel’s credible, unexpectedly satisfying answer is that nobody has the slightest idea. Shteyngart’s playful, carnivalesque sensibility fits within a Russian satirical-fantastic tradition.’ (The New York Times)
Gary Shteyngart (Leningrad, 1972) immigrated with his family to Queens, New York, at the age of seven. He earned a degree in Politics at Oberlin College. After graduation, he worked as a writer for several non-profit organizations, including the real-life Emma Lazarus Immigrant Absorption Society appearing in the novel. He submitted the manuscript as part of his application to the writing program at Hunter College. The program’s director, the novelist Chang-rae Lee, was so impressed that he sent the book to an editor of Riverhead Books, who snapped it up. Gary Shteyngart lives in New York City.
Herman Stevens has been ‘a writer in residence’ in the US and is author of many novels, of which Gouden Bergen was nominated for the Libris Literatuurprijs 2001.