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 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 (, 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


At 91, Marvel creator Stan Lee continues to…

By Piya Sinha-RoyLOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Marvel Entertainment's chief emeritus Stan Lee may be in his ninth decade, but it hasn't stopped him from adding…


Islamic State says beheads U.S. journalist, holds another

Islamic State insurgents released a video purportedly showing the beheading of U.S. journalist James Foley, who had gone missing in Syria nearly two years ago.


VIDEO: NYPD seeks shooter in East New York…

Cops are on the lookout for an unknown shooter who aimed and missed hitting a man on a bicycle, instead nearly striking a nearby officer in East New York.


NYS state forces thrift shops comply with ban…

Nine New York City thrift shops were reprimanded by the state attorney general for selling children's clothes with drawstrings around the neck and waist.


'Pretty Little Liars' recap: Season 5, Episode 11,…

Caleb's not a ghost. Spencer might still be an attempted murderer. And Hanna's going to die next week. In other words, we actually got some…


At 91, Marvel creator Stan Lee continues to…

Marvel Entertainment's Stan Lee is adding outposts to his creative empire to interest a new generation of children in super heroes of all shapes and sizes.


Mira Sorvino explores immortality on 'Intruders'

Mira Sorvino's new show "Intruders" centers around a secret society that achieves immortality by taking over the bodies of other people.


5 things you need to know about new…

"Doctor Who" returns Saturday with a new star, Peter Capaldi. Here's some things to know about him (mainly his turn as sweary spin doctor Malcolm Tucker).


Shane Greene travels unlikely road to Yankees stardom

Shane Greene was throwing a bullpen session on a quiet field at Daytona Beach Community College one day when the ball started moving.


2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL…

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL tight ends (TE)


MLB Power Rankings: Angels supplant A's, Nationals climb

MLB Power Rankings: Angels supplant A's, Nationals climb


David Wilson returns to triple jump, sets sights…

Giants fans know David Wilson can jump. They are just more used to seeing him go for backflips, not distance.


11 timeless gifts for registries or just because

Gifts to prove you're a style maven once and for all.


How everyday moments can inspire kids' creativity

"The Artist's Way for Parents" author Julia Cameron gives advice on how parents and children can be creative together.


How to stay safe online

Stop worrying about keeping your online passwords safe, and start worrying about keeping your username a secret. Actually, worry about both. According to Shaun Murphy…


OpenTable now lets you pay your bill via…

The restaurant app OpenTable added the ability to pay your bill (and tip) with your phone, thus cutting back on a few dining annoyances.