The bestselling novelist Gary Shteyngart will be the *special guest* at the Silent Reading Party on July 8. In the grand tradition of reading party special guests, he won't do a damn thing except sit there and read silently to himself just like you, while Paul Matthew Moore plays piano.
Past special guests at the reading party have included the filmmaker Lynn Shelton, the cartoonist Ellen Forney, the choreographer Zoe Scofield, and the philosopher Charles Mudede. About a decade ago, we had special guests at the reading party once a month.
But it's rare to have an out-of-town guest like Shetyngart, who lives in New York.
While I am a big fan of Shteyngart's satirical novels—especially his first one, The Russian Debutante's Handbook, and his most recent one, Lake Success, which takes place after Trump's election—my favorite book of his might be his memoir, Little Failure. It takes its name from a nickname the author's mother applied to him when he was younger and told her he wanted to write books for a living.
Obviously, he got that nickname before becoming a celebrated and bestselling novelist, a writing professor at Columbia, and one of The New Yorker's 40 best writers under the age of 40 (so named in 2010).
Shteyngart has given readings in bookstores and auditoriums all over the world, but rarely has he been seen peacefully reading in the privacy of his own home, in whatever reading chair he likes—which is what you will see if you tune in on Wednesday.
"This is so freaking exciting!" Gary wrote on Twitter a few days ago. "Won’t you join me in reading silently?"
He went on to warn that you may be distracted by the sight of him reading: "I often make exaggerated gestures while reading such as slapping my forehead and mouthing 'Mon Dieu!'"
The reading party tickets are available on a sliding scale, from $5 to $20. The more you pay, the more that goes to the musician Paul and to supporting The Stranger's continued existence. If you prefer to make a donation to The Stranger without getting the live piano music, you can do that too! (What do donations go toward supporting? All this. )
Get your ticket here for Wednesday, and tell your friends.
Afterward, you will always be able to say that you've been to a party with Gary Shteyngart.