Funny ‘cause it’s true: NYC’s literati roasts Gary Shteyngart

Writer and blurber Gary Shteyngart gets roasted Tuesday at BAM. Tickets are $20 at www.bam.org or at the BAM box office.

Making fun of Gary Shteyngart is like shooting pickled herring in a barrel. But tonight New York literati will head to the Brooklyn Academy of Music to roast the self-described “furry 39-year-old immigrant man” and author of three wildly comic novels about the expat experience.

Funny as these novels are, each is rooted in sad truths: smartphone addiction, globalization and what happens when the object of your affection, whether it it’s person or a city, changes.

“I have a kind of nostalgia for New York,” Shteyngart tells Metro from his upstate home, where he goes to enjoy the calming influence of a neighboring sheep farm. “I grew up in a New York that was a lot more dangerous than New York today. And that wasn’t good, but it sure as hell was a lot more interesting. When I was growing up, there wasn’t a Duane Reade and a Chase Bank on every corner. It felt like anything could happen. You could see the unimaginable by just turning a corner. And that feeling has slightly subsided. It’s moved on to other parts of the world.”

“We’ve become an island of millionaires in a very big way,” he continues. “And that’s not fun. I don’t think it’s even fun for the millionaires.”

His last novel, 2010′s “Super Sad True Love Story,” is set in a broken-down, militarized New York of the not-too-distant future, where women wear see-through pants and credit scores are displayed publicly. Its vision was unusually prophetic, with Occupy Wall Street-type groups encamped in city parks and rising sea levels threatening Lower Manhattan.

“I’ve been talking about the need for sea barriers for a very long time,” Shteyngart says. “We’re just a few feet above sea level in many parts of the city, and as the seas grow and if the hurricanes become more frequent, we’re going to be swamped continuously. We have to find a way to defend the city, or we’re not gonna have a city.”

But when asked which element of the novel he most fears coming true, he immediately answers, “Onionskin jeans. Keeping our jeans non-transparent is working well for us.”

Lately, Shteyngart has received attention for his prolific blurbing, documented in a Tumblr (shteyngartblurbs.tumblr.com), subtitled “a gallery of promiscuous prose.”

“I’ll blurb anyone,” he says. “You got a book, I’ll blurb it.” But, we ask him, doesn’t that devalue the blurbs? “It really does, and my real dream is that people will stop asking me to write blurbs. My blurbs not only don’t help, but they detract from the value of a book. It’s almost reached that tipping point when people will stop, and then I’ll be free! Ha ha! Free!”

If you go

   
Greenlight Bookstore and BAM present the Roast of Gary Shteyngart

Tonight, 7:30
BAM Harvey Theater
651 Fulton St., Brooklyn
$20, 718-636-4100
www.bam.org



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
International

Sierra Leone Ebola patient, recovered from family, dies…

An Ebola patient whose family sparked a nationwide hunt when they forcefully removed her from a treatment center and took her to a traditional healer has died.

Local

VIDEO: Cop reassigned as NYPD investigates alleged head…

An officer alleged to have stomped on a Brooklyn man's head last week had his gun taken away and placed on modified duty.

National

New York Times calls for legalization of pot

The New York Times editorial board on Saturday endorsed a repeal of the federal ban on marijuana, becoming the largest paper in the nation to back the idea.

National

Two injured after cable snaps on Ohio amusement…

(Reuters) - A cable on a large swing ride at an Ohio amusement park snapped and struck two riders as the swing was in motion,…

Music

Newport Folk Festival: Photo gallery of 35 moments…

As has been the tradition since Bob Dylan plugged in a bajillion years ago, the Newport Folk Festival embraces more musical genres than its name implies.

Music

MKTO: Behind the bromance

MKTO's Malcolm Kelley and Tony Oller talk about the American Dream tour, Demi Lovato and getting turned down by girls.

Arts

James Earl Jones and Rose Byrne head to…

Two-time Tony winner James Earl Jones returns to the New York stage next month as an eccentric grandfather in a revival of the 1930s comedy…

Movies

Box office: Scarlett Johansson wins battle of brains…

Scarlett Johansson's "Lucy" handily dispatched with Dwayne Johnson's "Hercules" over the weekend.

MLB

Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.

MLB

Joe Torre: I'm in Hall of Fame because…

Joe Torre spent 18 years putting together a near Hall of Fame career as a player. But it was the 12 years he spent as…

MLB

Yankees GM Brian Cashman breaks down art of…

The action frequently accelerates as the non-waiver trade deadline approaches, as it will on Thursday.

Auto racing

Jeff Gordon captures fifth title at Brickyard 400

Jeff Gordon captures fifth title at Brickyard 400

Wellbeing

This Week In Health: Friends share similar DNA,…

Friends share similar DNA, study finds Location: U.S. Study subjects: Nearly 2,000 people Results: When it comes to our social networks, it seems that birds of…

Education

Are liberal arts colleges turning away from the…

Bryn Mawr College, a small women's college located just outside of Philadelphia, announced last week that it would be making standardized tests like the SAT…

Education

Recent grads discover school superintendent plagiarized parts of…

  Two recent high school graduates made a surprising discovery about the commencement speech their school superintendent delivered at their graduation: portions of it was copied…

Career

Feeling stuck? Get out of the entry-level job…

Television and movies may be littered with 20-something characters who seem directionless when it comes to their careers, but author Mary Traina says she finds…