Interview: Gary Shteyngart

By EUGENIA WILLIAMSON  |  September 7, 2010

Do you want it to?
We're moving at such an exponential rate when it's coming to this technology. Even writing a novel like this — in 10 years, nothing we know right now will exist. Everything will be transformed. Who knows what will happen?

As I've said, this is a novel that deals with the present as much as the future. It's what I feel on the ground right now. I'm not an optimistic person by nature, and none of my novels are particularly optimistic.

Is this book making people look to you as a sage?
I'm the last person people should be asking about this stuff. I'm writing about what affects me, and that's all it is.

So this is a social novel with a dystopic bent. Were you looking to any other novelists as you were writing it?
Not really. More things like Ray Kurzweil's books, works about immortality. All of that became very interesting. The idea is to live forever, but we're not going to be fully human forever, we're going to meld with technology. What I worry is that we will live forever but we'll chip away at our humanity. Living forever would be nice — maybe not — but I would like to do it in a human form, if possible.

Why do you think this book has been so much more popular than your previous two?
It's about America, not a 325-pound guy with a bad circumcision.

GARY STEYNGART READS AT BROOKLINE BOOKSMITH ON SEPTEMBER 15 AND AT NEWTONVILLE BOOKS ON SEPTEMBER 16

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