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Best-selling author Gary Shteyngart on growing up Soviet, his real name and why he didn't mind getting hit as a kid
You've written three novels--The Russian Debutante's Handbook, Absurdistan and Super Sad True Love Story--that draw on your life, so why a memoir?
Well, I'm 41, which is 67 in Russian years, so I feel like time is passing me by. I need to get this out before the heart attack, the stroke and the exploding liver that many Russians have at this age. I wanted to get this little story down with these three people who were my family. It's also a 20th century story, about moving from one failed superpower to another not-doing-so-great superpower.
Aren't you worried that you've used up all the material for future novels?
This is my opportunity to use up the material so that the next book will be about someone other than myself. I want to write about maybe a woman, so I'm meeting a few here and there. They're great.