Gary Shteyngart is not a whore

The novelist gets teased for being such a promiscuous blurber. He's really a master performance artist SLIDE SHOW

Topics: Books, Gary Shteyngart, Blurb, A.J. Jacobs, A.J. Jacobs blurb, Gary Shetyngart blurb,

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 45
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    Gary Shteyngart is not a whore

    Aravind Adiga's "The White Tiger"

    “An exhilarating, side-splitting account of India today, as well as an eloquent howl at her many injustices. Adiga enters the literary scene resplendent in battle dress and ready to conquer. Let us bow to him.”

    “An exhilarating, side-splitting account of India today, as well as an eloquent howl at her many injustices. Adiga enters the literary scene resplendent in battle dress and ready to conquer. Let us bow to him.”

    Gary Shteyngart is not a whore

    Gina Apostol's "Gun Dealers' Daughter"

    “Gina Apostol’s novel is just what literature needed. Fresh, funny, irreverent, it won me over immediately.”

    “Gina Apostol’s novel is just what literature needed. Fresh, funny, irreverent, it won me over immediately.”

    Gary Shteyngart is not a whore

    Upamanyu Chatterjee's "English, August"

    “Comparing Upamanyu Chatterjee with any other comic novelist is like comparing a big fat cigar with a menthol cigarette. Page by page and joke by joke, English, August shimmers in a way that is hard to believe.”

    “Comparing Upamanyu Chatterjee with any other comic novelist is like comparing a big fat cigar with a menthol cigarette. Page by page and joke by joke, English, August shimmers in a way that is hard to believe.”

    Gary Shteyngart is not a whore

    Darcy Cosper's "Wedding Season"

    “(S)ocial comedy on a grand scale. A hilarious and urbane primer on getting hitched — or not — in the 21st century.”

    “(S)ocial comedy on a grand scale. A hilarious and urbane primer on getting hitched — or not — in the 21st century.”

    Gary Shteyngart is not a whore

    Rebecca Curtis' "Twenty Grand"

    “A book as delightful as it is disturbing.”

    “A book as delightful as it is disturbing.”

    Gary Shteyngart is not a whore

    Matt Dojny's "The Festival of Earthly Delights"

    “If Puchai were a real country, I’d be a citizen by now, or at least an illegal alien. What a glorious novel!”

    “If Puchai were a real country, I’d be a citizen by now, or at least an illegal alien. What a glorious novel!”

    Gary Shteyngart is not a whore

    Josh Emmons' "The Loss of Leon Mead"

    “The Loss of Leon Meed leaves us with the odd feeling of hard-won hope. The hope that in our society kindness and reason may one day prevail.”

    “The Loss of Leon Meed leaves us with the odd feeling of hard-won hope. The hope that in our society kindness and reason may one day prevail.”

    Gary Shteyngart is not a whore

    Nathan Englander's "What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank"

    “The best work yet from a true American treasure.”

    “The best work yet from a true American treasure.”

    Gary Shteyngart is not a whore

    Patrick DeWitt's "The Sisters Brothers"

    “DeWitt’s dirty realism makes me want to roll in the mud with him.”

    “DeWitt’s dirty realism makes me want to roll in the mud with him.”

    Gary Shteyngart is not a whore

    Marc Fitten's "Valeria's Last Stand"

    “A thoughtful, skillfully drawn portrait of one woman, one village, and one country.”

    “A thoughtful, skillfully drawn portrait of one woman, one village, and one country.”

    Gary Shteyngart is not a whore

    James Franco's "Palo Alto"

    “This is a book to be inhaled more than once, with delight and admiration, with unease and pure enjoyment. As a writer, he’s here to stay.”

    “This is a book to be inhaled more than once, with delight and admiration, with unease and pure enjoyment. As a writer, he’s here to stay.”

    Gary Shteyngart is not a whore

    Alex Gilvarry's "From the Memoirs of a Non-enemy Combatant"

    “It’s rare for a novel to tread so fearlessly into the political and yet to emerge so deeply funny and humane … gallop through the mess we’ve made of our civilization with style and panache.”

    “It’s rare for a novel to tread so fearlessly into the political and yet to emerge so deeply funny and humane … gallop through the mess we’ve made of our civilization with style and panache.”

    Gary Shteyngart is not a whore

    Lev Grossman's "The Magicians"

    “Remember the last time you ran home to finish a book? This is it, folks. The Magicians is the most dazzling, erudite and thoughtful fantasy novel to date.”

    “Remember the last time you ran home to finish a book? This is it, folks. The Magicians is the most dazzling, erudite and thoughtful fantasy novel to date.”

    Gary Shteyngart is not a whore

    George Hagen's "The Laments"

    “George Hagen’s highly entertaining debut novel features an irresistibly headstrong family, a global sweep, and not only a sense of loss and displacement that’s perfectly in tune with the world we live in but also a full measure of resilient humanity.”

    “George Hagen’s highly entertaining debut novel features an irresistibly headstrong family, a global sweep, and not only a sense of loss and displacement that’s perfectly in tune with the world we live in but also a full measure of resilient humanity.”

    Gary Shteyngart is not a whore

    Adam Haslett's "Union Atlantic"

    “It explains to me, with humor and style and generosity, how we became America in the year 2009. A must read.”

    “It explains to me, with humor and style and generosity, how we became America in the year 2009. A must read.”

    Gary Shteyngart is not a whore

    Aleksandar Hemon's "Love and Obstacles"

    “Hemon can’t write a boring sentence, and the English language (which he adopted at a late age) is the richer for it.”

    “Hemon can’t write a boring sentence, and the English language (which he adopted at a late age) is the richer for it.”

    Gary Shteyngart is not a whore

    Jennifer duBois' "A Partial History of Lost Causes"

    “Jennifer duBois is too young to be this talented. I wish I were her.”

    “Jennifer duBois is too young to be this talented. I wish I were her.”

    Gary Shteyngart is not a whore

    Joshua Henkin's "The World Without You"

    “The 4th of July will never be the same for me, nor for my fellow Americans. I can’t imagine a world without Joshua Henkin.”

    “The 4th of July will never be the same for me, nor for my fellow Americans. I can’t imagine a world without Joshua Henkin.”

    Gary Shteyngart is not a whore

    Sayed Kashua's "Second Person Singular"

    “Sayed Kashua is a brilliant, funny, humane writer who effortlessly overturns any and all preconceptions about the Middle East. “

    “Sayed Kashua is a brilliant, funny, humane writer who effortlessly overturns any and all preconceptions about the Middle East. “

    Gary Shteyngart is not a whore

    Paul LaFarge's "Luminous Airplanes"

    “This is one of the best works of fiction to come my way in a long time. Luminous Airplanes is a quiet triumph of a book.”

    “This is one of the best works of fiction to come my way in a long time. Luminous Airplanes is a quiet triumph of a book.”

    Gary Shteyngart is not a whore

    Adam Langer's "Crossing California"

    “A work of unusual mastery, compassion, insight and wit. What is exciting about Crossing California is not merely the scope of Adam Langer’s literary ambitions, but the generous ways in which he fulfills them.”

    “A work of unusual mastery, compassion, insight and wit. What is exciting about Crossing California is not merely the scope of Adam Langer’s literary ambitions, but the generous ways in which he fulfills them.”

    Gary Shteyngart is not a whore

    Reif Larsen's "Selected Works of T.S. Spivet"

    “I felt my brain growing as I read it. Who knew the combination of cartography and adolescence could prove to be so touching and so much fun?”

    “I felt my brain growing as I read it. Who knew the combination of cartography and adolescence could prove to be so touching and so much fun?”

    Gary Shteyngart is not a whore

    Victor LaValle's "The Devil in Silver"

    “Literary horror just found a new master. Profound, and profoundly terrifying, Victor LaValle’s The Devil in Silver is a page-turning delight.”

    “Literary horror just found a new master. Profound, and profoundly terrifying, Victor LaValle’s The Devil in Silver is a page-turning delight.”

    Gary Shteyngart is not a whore

    Jonathan Lethem's "Chronic City"

    “Pow! Lethem has done it again. When it comes to brainy adventures full of laughter and heart, this master has few equals. What a joy from the first page to the last.”

    “Pow! Lethem has done it again. When it comes to brainy adventures full of laughter and heart, this master has few equals. What a joy from the first page to the last.”

    Gary Shteyngart is not a whore

    Dinaw Mengestu's "The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears"

    “A startling, necessary novel. Dinaw Mengestu’s vision of America is clear and precise, opening our eyes to the country we inhabit, for better and for worse.”

    “A startling, necessary novel. Dinaw Mengestu’s vision of America is clear and precise, opening our eyes to the country we inhabit, for better and for worse.”

    Gary Shteyngart is not a whore

    Jennifer Miller's "The Year of the Gadfly"

    “Hysterical and moving, Jennifer Miller’s debut fiction fuses Special Topics in Calamity Physics with Portnoy’s Complaint for girls.”

    “Hysterical and moving, Jennifer Miller’s debut fiction fuses Special Topics in Calamity Physics with Portnoy’s Complaint for girls.”

    Gary Shteyngart is not a whore

    Rajesh Parmeswaran's "I Am An Executioner"

    “(G)ets the pulse racing from word one. I love Rajesh because his last name is even more impossible than my own, and because he has redefined the American short story for me. Bravo!”

    “(G)ets the pulse racing from word one. I love Rajesh because his last name is even more impossible than my own, and because he has redefined the American short story for me. Bravo!”

    Gary Shteyngart is not a whore

    Ed Park's "Personal Days"

    “I laughed until they put me in a mental hospital.”

    “I laughed until they put me in a mental hospital.”

    Gary Shteyngart is not a whore

    Samantha Peale's "The American Painter Emma Dial"

    “This is the novel about New York’s art world I have always wanted to read. It is sexy, smart, super-cool.”

    “This is the novel about New York’s art world I have always wanted to read. It is sexy, smart, super-cool.”

    Gary Shteyngart is not a whore

    Gideon Lewis Kraus' "A Sense of Direction"

    “If David Foster Wallace had written Eat, Pray, Love, it might have come close to approximating the adventures of Gideon Lewis-Kraus.”

    “If David Foster Wallace had written Eat, Pray, Love, it might have come close to approximating the adventures of Gideon Lewis-Kraus.”

    Gary Shteyngart is not a whore

    Arthur Phillips' "The Egyptologist"

    “Beneath Arthur Phillips’ singular wit and peerless comic timing, lies a spot-on parable of 20th century self-delusion and the painfully fruitless quest for immortality.”

    “Beneath Arthur Phillips’ singular wit and peerless comic timing, lies a spot-on parable of 20th century self-delusion and the painfully fruitless quest for immortality.”

    Gary Shteyngart is not a whore

    Francine Prose's "A Changed Man"

    “Here is a novel that captures America at its most hilarious and dreadful. Here are characters as richly drawn as any in our fiction to date.”

    “Here is a novel that captures America at its most hilarious and dreadful. Here are characters as richly drawn as any in our fiction to date.”

    Gary Shteyngart is not a whore

    Joanna Smith Rakoff's "A Fortunate Age"

    “A wonderful, funny and spot-on portrait of my clumsy generation that brings to mind such hallmarks as Mary McCarthy’s The Group, Jay McInerney’s Brightness Falls, and Claire Messud’s The Emperor’s Children.”

    “A wonderful, funny and spot-on portrait of my clumsy generation that brings to mind such hallmarks as Mary McCarthy’s The Group, Jay McInerney’s Brightness Falls, and Claire Messud’s The Emperor’s Children.”

    Gary Shteyngart is not a whore

    Nathaniel Rich's "The Mayor's Tongue"

    “Here is a young writer who is not afraid to give literature a kick in the pants, a writer deep in the thrall of language.”

    “Here is a young writer who is not afraid to give literature a kick in the pants, a writer deep in the thrall of language.”

    Gary Shteyngart is not a whore

    Molly Ringwald's "When It Happens to You"

    “Molly Ringwald understands how families work and uses her considerable talents to make them come alive on the page.”

    “Molly Ringwald understands how families work and uses her considerable talents to make them come alive on the page.”

    Gary Shteyngart is not a whore

    Julian Rubinstein's "Ballad of the Whiskey Robber"

    “Punchy, hilarious and apparently even true, Ballad of the Whiskey Robber gives hope to anyone who ever smuggled an animal pelt, climbed aboard a Zamboni, or pondered whether truth can be better than fiction.”

    “Punchy, hilarious and apparently even true, Ballad of the Whiskey Robber gives hope to anyone who ever smuggled an animal pelt, climbed aboard a Zamboni, or pondered whether truth can be better than fiction.”

    Gary Shteyngart is not a whore

    Karen Russell's "St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves"

    “Hallelujah! Karen Russell’s work sweeps the ground from beneath your feet and replaces it with something new and wondrous, part Florida swampland, part holy water.”

    “Hallelujah! Karen Russell’s work sweeps the ground from beneath your feet and replaces it with something new and wondrous, part Florida swampland, part holy water.”

    Gary Shteyngart is not a whore

    Anya Ulinich's "Petropolis"

    “Anya Ulinich’s satiric romp gives new meaning to the word ‘bittersweet.’”

    “Anya Ulinich’s satiric romp gives new meaning to the word ‘bittersweet.’”

    Gary Shteyngart is not a whore

    Deb Olin Unferth's "Vacation"

    “Ms. Unferth sure knows how to turn a phrase and it’s a delight to follow her across the American landscape.”

    “Ms. Unferth sure knows how to turn a phrase and it’s a delight to follow her across the American landscape.”

    Gary Shteyngart is not a whore

    Joseph Weisberg's "An Ordinary Spy"

    “In two words: A masterpiece.”

    “In two words: A masterpiece.”

    Gary Shteyngart is not a whore

    Colson Whitehead's "Sag Harbor"

    “Pure shimmering brilliance”

    “Pure shimmering brilliance”

    Gary Shteyngart is not a whore

    Adam Wilson's "Flatscreen"

    “OMFG, I nearly up and died from laughter.”

    “OMFG, I nearly up and died from laughter.”

    Gary Shteyngart is not a whore

    John Wray's "Lowboy"

    “America’s most original young writer has given us a book for the ages.”

    “America’s most original young writer has given us a book for the ages.”

    Gary Shteyngart is not a whore

    Leigh Stein's "The Fallback Plan"

    “Beautiful, funny, thrilling and true.”

    “Beautiful, funny, thrilling and true.”

  • Recent Slide Shows

Gary Shteyngart threatened to retire from blurbing in the New York Times Book Review this week, and thousands of writers cried, “No!”

After all, the blurb game is hard for novelists — and Shteyngart is easy. He’s the rare combination of a best-selling literary writer, and a generous enough person to spend time reading and praising other authors’ work. An entire genius Tumblr feed — shteyngartblurbs.tumblr.com — is dedicated to collecting his “promiscuous praise.”

“My blurbing standards are very high,” Shteyngart told A.J. Jacobs, another writer who can’t say no when asked for a blurb. “I look for the following: Two covers, one spine, at least 40 pages, ISBN number, title, author’s name. Once those conditions are satisfied, I blurb. And I blurb hard. I’ve blurbed about a hundred novels in the past 10 years, nearly every one that landed on my desk.

Shteyngart told Jacobs that he’s concerned some readers roll their eyes when they see his name on a book, and that publishers will figure that out at some point. But while the ungenerous dismiss Shteyngart as a blurb whore, the reality is much different. Shteyngart’s praise is practically poetic — it’s performance art on a book jacket, and it just gets funnier, wilder and more clever.



Take his praise for Joshua Henkin’s new novel “The World Without You,” which is set over a summer holiday weekend. “The 4th of July will never be the same for me, nor for my fellow Americans,” he blurbs. Or this, for “I Am an Executioner,” a recent story collection by Rajesh Parmeswaran: “I love Rajesh because his last name is even more impossible than my own, and because he has redefined the American short story for me.”

This slide show collects some of our favorites.

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 7
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    Dinah Fried

    Famous literary meals

    "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" by Hunter S. Thompson

    Dinah Fried

    Famous literary meals

    "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" by Lewis Carroll

    Dinah Fried

    Famous literary meals

    "Moby Dick" by Herman Melville

    Dinah Fried

    Famous literary meals

    "The Bell Jar" by Sylvia Plath

    Dinah Fried

    Famous literary meals

    "The Catcher in the Rye" by J.D. Salinger

    Famous literary meals

    "The Metamorphosis" by Franz Kafka

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>