Photo credit: Brigitte Lacombe
Describe your latest work.
is the story of Barry Cohen, a hedge fund guy whose fund is being investigated by the SEC, and who flees his failing marriage, autistic son, and imploding career on a Greyhound bus, searching for his college sweetheart across America. Meanwhile, the year is 2016, so some, um, interesting things are about to happen electorally.
What was your favorite book as a child?
I grew up in Leningrad and I loved the Russian-language Tom Sawyer
with an introduction by one of Stalin’s henchmen: “Tom Sawyer very bad boy, he want to control means of production.”
When did you know you were a writer?
When I was five I wrote my first novel, Lenin and His Magical Goose
. My grandma paid me in cheese for it.
What does your writing workspace look like?
I write in bed next to an espresso maker. At times a dachshund comes to visit me and I use him as a pillow for a brief nap.
What do you care about more than most people around you?
I want espresso beans, duvet covers, and dachshunds of the finest quality.
Share an interesting experience you've had with one of your readers.
A reader just had me sign his two-week-old baby. I’m sure there are laws against this, but apparently not in Seattle.
Tell us something you're embarrassed to admit.
I often wear no clothes during the writing process. Sorry. Think about something else!
Introduce one other author you think people should read, and suggest a good book with which to start.
Paul La Farge is the freaking best. Read Night Ocean
and then everything else.
Besides your personal library, do you have any beloved collections?
I love the cute little library in my Upstate village. They have tons of great books for my four-year-old. Strong Mo Willems
What's the strangest job you've ever had?
I was a janitor in a nuclear power plant when I was a teenager. And that’s where the baldness began.
Have you ever made a literary pilgrimage?
Only to my bathroom.
What scares you the most as a writer?
People don’t read books that much anymore, so I make book trailers. Check ‘em out on YouTube!
If someone were to write your biography, what would be the title and subtitle?
Little Failure II: Revenge of the Soviet Jew
Offer a favorite sentence or passage from another writer.
“It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.” — Orwell, 1984
Describe a recurring nightmare.
I wake up to discover that my dachshund has become my biographer. And he knows where all the bones are buried and he’s going to dig them up and everyone will know. Everyone will know.
Do you have any phobias?
Fear of heights, enclosed spaces, outdoor spaces, social situations, asocial situations, feral mongooses, dachshund biographers, the cosmos.
Name a guilty pleasure you partake in regularly.
I collect and read about watches. I’m sorry.
What's the best advice you’ve ever received?
“That’s not where that goes.”
Share a Top Five book list of your choice.
I like dystopias, books about immigrants, and Russian crap.
The Handmaid’s Tale
by Margaret Atwood
by Zadie Smith
by Vladimir Nabokov
Fathers and Sons
by Ivan Turgenev
Any short story collection by Chekhov
that includes "Lady With Lapdog."
÷ ÷ ÷
is the New York Times
bestselling author of the memoir Little Failure
(a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist) and the novels Super Sad True Love Story
(winner of the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize), Absurdistan
, and The Russian Debutante’s Handbook
(winner of the Stephen Crane Award for First Fiction and the National Jewish Book Award for Fiction). His books regularly appear on best-of lists around the world and have been published in 30 countries. Lake Success
is his most recent book.