Tag: Gary Shteyngart

Von Rezzori reading

Friday, January 18th, 2008 | All Things, Books

At McNally Robinson bookstore in NoLIta for a reading and discussion of Romanian–born writer Gregor von Rezzori‘s recently reissued novel, Memoirs of an Anti-Semite — five connected stories, taking place over several decades, exploring the European aristocrat protagonist’s relationship with and ambivalent attitudes toward Jews.

Von Rezorri’s seminal work was first published in 1969 when he was 65 years old; the English version of the German original was released in the United States in 1981. Before becoming known as a novelist and memoirist, von Rezorri, himself born an Austro-Hungarian aristocrat, was a soldier in the Romanian army and later went on to find stints throughout Europe as a radio broadcaster, writer, filmmaker and artist.

Zadie Smith reading

Erica Jong, who had been scheduled to give the introductions tonight, was called away by the birth of her daughter’s twins. The host of the evening was Edwin Frank, editor of the NY Review of Books Classics series, whose mission is to reintroduce great books, like von Rezzori’s, that have fallen out of print or out of sight in recent years.

Authors Zadie Smith and Gary Shteyngart read excerpts from the novel and took questions from the packed audience.

McNally Robinson

Soviet émigré and Stuy alum Shteyngart’s debut novel, The Russian Debutante’s Handbook, earned him wide praise and numerous awards – including the Stephen Crane Award for First Fiction and the National Jewish Book Award for Fiction. His follow-up 2006 novel, Absurdistan, garnered near-unanimous positive reviews, prompting Walter Kirn to declare on the cover of The New York Times Book Review, “Like a victorious wrestler, this novel is so immodestly vigorous, so burstingly sure of its barbaric excellence, that simply by breathing, sweating and standing upright it exalts itself.”

But it seemed that what drew crowds to the independent bookstore on Prince tonight was Smith. In 2006, the English novelist was listed among the Time 100 – the magazine’s annual wrap-up of the “100 men and women whose power, talent or moral example is transforming our world.” Smith completed her debut novel, White Teeth, during her final year at Cambridge, and was dubbed by The Guardian as “the first publishing sensation of the millennium.” White Teeth went on to win the Whitbread First Novel Award in 2000, among many other honors. Her third novel, On Beauty, was published in September 2005 and was shortlisted for the 2005 Man Booker Prize. The book won the 2006 Orange Prize for Fiction.

I arrived shortly after the author introductions, and this was the closest I could manage to the stage, and green sweater-clad Smith. Well, it’s a reading, not a sighting.

Zadie Smith reading

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