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Acclaimed Satirist Gary Shteyngart to Give Annual Krieger Memorial Lecture at Vassar

  |   March 20, 2014  |  Comment

POUGHKEEPSIE, NY — Critically acclaimed and New York Times bestselling writer Gary Shteyngart will speak at Vassar on Thursday, March 27, at 8:00pm, in the Students’ Building second floor auditorium. The lecture is free and open to the public with seating on a first-come first-served basis.

Gary Shteyngart

Shteyngart has won over readers with humor, satirical takedowns of contemporary society, and a compassionate examination of modern love and loss. He is author of the novels The Russian Debutante’s HandbookAbsurdistan, and Super Sad True Love Story, and most recently the memoir Little Failure.

Russian-born Shteyngart shares his American immigrant experience in Little Failure, which fellow bestselling author Mary Karr (Lit, The Liars’ Club) described as, “a memoir for the ages. I spat laughter on the first page and closed the last with wet eyes. Unputdownable in the day and a half I spent reading it, Little Failure is a window into immigrant agony and ambition, Jewish angst, and anybody’s desperate need for a tribe.”

Fellow author Zadie Smith (On BeautyWhite Teeth) added, “You ask me if [Little Failures] is funny? Naturally it’s funny – he’s always funny. But this book is also a super sad true love story: between Gary and Lenin, Gary and his parents, Gary and women, Gary and food, Gary and America, Gary and Russia, Gary and the English language itself.”

Shteyngart also has a unique distinction: his popular collection of book jacket blurbs that have earned him the tongue-in-cheek title of “master blurber” in the literary world, such as his comments about Charles Blackstone’s book Vintage Attraction: “It’s so post-post-modern it’s almost pre-modern. I read it on a stone tablet and loved every word.”

“It’s not easy to summarize Shteyngart; there’s so much satirical gunpowder packed into every sentence that the effect gets lost in the short version,” said Time magazine’s coverage of Super Sad True Love Story. His novel Absurdistan was chosen as one of the 10 best books of 2006 by both The New York Times Book Review and Time, and he was named a Granta “Best Young American Novelist” as well as a New Yorker “Best Writer Under 40.” His writing has also appeared in The New YorkerTravel + LeisureEsquireGQThe New York Times Magazine, and many other publications, and his books have been translated into 26 languages.


This annual lecture series is given in memory of a Vassar student, Alex Krieger, who was killed in an automobile accident during the spring of his freshman year. One of Krieger’s keenest interests was distinguished American writing that incorporates humor as a primary element. In consultation with his family, Vassar has invited outstanding American writers and humorists to deliver the annual speech, including Tom Wolfe, Wendy Wasserstein, John Irving, P. J. O’Rourke, Calvin Trillin, Jules Fieffer, Oliver Sacks, Tony Kushner, David Sedaris, Michael Chabon, Sarah Vowell, Gail Collins, Augusten Burroughs, Frank Rich, Ira Glass, Andy Borowitz, and most recently Mo Rocca.

Vassar College strives to make its events, performances, and facilities accessible to all. For detailed information about accessibility to specific campus facilities, search for “campus accessibility information” on the Vassar homepage (http://www.vassar.edu).

Vassar College is located at 124 Raymond Avenue in Poughkeepsie, NY, and directions to the campus can be found at http://www.vassar.edu/directions.

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