© 2022 WYSO
Our Community. Our Nation. Our World.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Best Of The Book Nook: The Russian Debutante's Handbook, by Gary Shteyngart


14 years ago I booked an interview with an author who had just published his first book. Gary Shteyngart was on book tour for the paperback release of "The Russian Debutante's Handbook" and he came out to Yellow Springs for a live interview. I had really enjoyed the book and was looking forward to meeting him. Gary arrived and from the very start of our exchange that day I realized that I was in the presence of one of our great humorists.

I have interviewed Gary for every one of his books and if you are familiar with his work as you listen to this interview you'll hear him make references to his next novel, "Absurdistan," which was a work in progress at that time and you'll also hear him mention the nickname his parents gave him; "Little Failure," which became the title of his most recent book which was a memoir that recounted his early years living in the former Soviet Union, his move to America, his difficulties adjusting to a completely different culture, his college days at Oberlin when he was known as Scary Gary, and many other amusing recollections.

Back in the USSR his grandmother would reward young Gary for writing stories by giving him slices of cheese. Be glad that she did.

Gary has a sly and very dry sense of humor. After you listen to this one I would encourage you to check out some other interviews with Gary that you can find in our Book Nook podcast archive.

The Book Nook on WYSO is made possible by five local library systems in southwest Ohio: the Greene County Public Library,  Washington-Centerville Public Library,  Clark County Public LibraryDayton Metro Library, and Wright Memorial Public Library.

Vick Mickunas introduced the Book Nook author interview program for WYSO in 1994. Over the years he has produced more than 1500 interviews with writers, musicians, poets, politicians, and celebrities. Listen to the Book Nook with Vick Mickunas for intimate conversations about books with the writers who create them. Vick Mickunas reviews books for the Dayton Daily News and the Springfield News Sun.