Gary Shteyngart on 'Little Failure' and fitting in

Author Gary Shteyngart then and now.

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Writer Gary Shteyngart joins Jian to discuss his hilarious and deeply honest memoir Little Failure -- a title inspired by the nickname his mother gave him. (His dad, for the record, called him snotty.) 

Shteyngart (Absurdistan, Super Sad True Love Story) explains how he got into writing as an asthmatic five year old, how stories helped him fit in to his new American life, and why he doesn't think more serious themes should permeate every page.

"If satire is joke, joke, joke, joke, something serious, this attempt for memoir was really a kind of 50/50," says Shteyngart.

"I will write ten pages about what my parents underwent during the Stalin era but then, you know, ten pages of me trying to eat my first American pizza and nearly choking to death because we didn't have that much cheese in Russia."

Shteyngart's (semi) apology to Canada

Shteyngart recently ruffled a few feathers by taking a shot at Canadian literature and suggesting our writers are risk averse.

"I can apologize with the best of Canadians. I am so apologist," he says. "Look, I love Canadian literature. Geez, you've got Alice Munro and Margaret Atwood and that tall guy."

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