This is the first interview I’ve read in which Shteyngart is likeable (to me). I love to hear authors talking about who they’re reading, their reading habits, and their “to read” list.
From the interview:
RB: You mentioned some books that you admire—do you read a lot of fiction?
GS: Oh my god yes—Josh Ferris, Jhumpa Lahiri—
RB: Another immigrant—
GS: Wells Tower.
RB: I’ve heard of him—his book made some kind of splash this past spring [Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned, 2009]. Short story collections still are being published—
GS: The MFA effect—those programs are geared to short fiction.
RB: Tobias Wolff has made a life writing stories.
GS: Well, there was This Boy’s Life. The Things They Carried is good example of stories that almost fall into a novel—when I was in the Army bases I was surprised that so few of the enlisted men had read them. I imagined if there were one book in the army it would be Tim O’Brien’s book.
RB: Have you read Matterhorn [A Novel of the Vietnam War by Karl Malantes]?
GS: I am dying to read it. This tour has been taking up my time but I want to spend a month—I’d love to read it.