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Gary Shteyngart on dachshunds, Lenin and reading Twain in Russia

How much of what ails America can be blamed on Facebook?

According to best-selling author Gary Shteyngart, quite a lot.

Shteyngart’s new satirical novel, “Super Sad True Love Story,” imagines a world in which the American economy has collapsed, the government is run by the so-called Bipartisan Party, and the media is dominated by Fox Liberty Ultra and the New York Lifestyle Times. It’s also a world in which people no longer read. Books are considered novelty items, and smelly ones at that.  People communicate primarily in online slang, through smart phones and social networking sites.  Genuine human contact has become obsolete.

Shteyngart — who updates his own Facebook page often — was born in 1972 in what was then Leningrad. His family immigrated to the United States when he was a boy. He was named one of the New Yorker’s 20 best writers under 40. And The New York Times — the real one — called his book a “super sad, super funny, super affecting performance.” In fact, the book has debuted to great reviews and is a New York Times bestseller.

Shteyngart generated considerable buzz last month when he filmed a trailer for the book with actor James Franco, one of his students at Columbia University, where Shteyngart teaches creative writing. For more on that and the book itself, check out Need to Know’s review of “Super Sad True Love Story,” including an interview with Shteyngart, from July.

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  • Morena

    Gary I am a huge fan! I read your MIA article in GQ magazine and I loved how you just went left field on your fascination with ICE CUBE and how by the time we reach our 30′s, all of a sudden we just don’t give a f*&^% about music! I will be spending my Friday night reading your new book!

  • Video: Gary Shteyngart on dachshunds, Lenin and reading Twain in … | New York

    [...] Video: Gary Shteyngart on dachshunds, Lenin and reading Twain in … [...]

  • lauren

    I would love to have Gary Shteyngart read “Super Sad True Love Story” in Russian to me.

  • David

    No doubt web-based social networking platforms so interconnected now with cell phones are replacing older forms of communication. Prior to the invasion of electronic media that occupies our lives it was still possible to escape personal face-to-face communication. That’s why scholar-reader types were called bookworms. Still, Gary Sheyngart’s novel is a cautionary tale about our future in worst case scenario mode. We like the blinking of bright lights more than the twinkle in our neighbor’s eye or the heartfelt sigh. And Gary is one of the few asking why.

  • Becca Hale

    Posting the newest photos of the best breed of dog in the whole world on FB….BUT OF COURSE!

  • Sarah S.

    I was hoping for another James Franco cameo. Oh well, it was still a great segment. I thought “The Russian Debutante’s Handbook” was great, so I look forward to reading “Super Sad True Love Story.”

  • Super Sad True Love Story « Sook's Random Thoughts

    [...] current culture.  It’s a great joy to discover this author Gary Shteyngart this summer. View his interview on PBS. Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)Book review: Super Sad True Love Story from [...]

  • BB

    Lol. I <3 GS & SSTLS!

  • Kevin Ridgeway

    PBS+Gary Shteygart=Pure heaven. An absolute treat to view…give him a show, PBS!

  • Ron

    I’m with Shteygart. I hope we find our way back to sitting down with our friends for a cup of coffee.
    Lets put the focus of technological invovations to improving our job tasks and working life.
    We are experiencing an infomation overload. Much of it useless to our daily life.
    Can life be reduced to 140 characters, or for that matter, a post on a PBS segment?
    Technology cannot improve the real personal interactive experience.
    Can I buy you a cup of coffee?

  • mc

    Everyone is entitled to give his or her opinions. Gary has expressed his views on the technology.
    Aldous Huxley has also expressed his views on how we have become slaves of time even before industrialization and technology advancement. It is true that all these internet downloads have become overloads and the entire www freezes often than before.
    Today it is even worse that many have become so dependent on texting using iPhone and listening to music on iPod that many of them with wires from their ears look like hearing-impaired. Recent Medical Statistics indicate that many young American men and women experience hearing loss and very soon will become deaf if they continue to use their iPods or headphones too long.
    All these technology advancement is doing more harm than good to the nation.
    One good example is that many in Americans do not read. Either they do not know how to read or they don’t want to read print materials. They can watch tv or youtube or the internet surfing for hours

    That is so sad

  • Gabrielle

    Great interview with Shteyngart. Careful readers do exist, but we dwindle. I, too am a reader/teacher/writer (b. 1971) who has been thinking about the intersection of tech and lit.
    Rock on.

  • jacob

    I don’t get it. The last thing I saw from this guy, he said he can’t read. And in this interview he seems really articulate and perceptive, like a totally different person.

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