Gary Shteyngart, king of book blurbs, abandons his throne

The satirical novelist—and avid writer of compact, exuberant bits of praise for fellow novelists' works—announces he'll stop producing jacket copy

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Gary Shteyngart

Gary Shteyngart


Gary Shteyngart, the reigning monarch of the book blurb, is calling it quits. (Well, almost.) According to an open letter published at The New Yorker's Book Bench blog, the satirist (and recent memoirist) has been unable to keep up with the flood of requests from authors, agents and publishers for enthusiastic and witty jacket copy. Still, Shteyngart says that he'll continue to blurb for students, friends and those closely linked to his associates; in addition, he'll also pick up the pen for those "who can prove they own a long-haired dachshund and are taking good care of same" or took care of him while he "freaked out."

As the literary community began to catch on to Shteyngart's prolific blurbing a few years ago, it came across as both an impressive feat and a punch line (often delivered by the author himself). For a while, it felt that almost no new hardcover was complete without a bright and effusive plug from the Super Sad True Love Story and The Russian Debutante's Handbook writer. Shteyngart even blurbed the Tumblr inspired by his blurbs, as well as the short documentary about his nearly addictive need to praise.

With the departure of Shtyengart, there'll be a gaping hole in the world of pithy prose that simultaneously gushes while remaining tongue-in-cheek about what it's doing; from now on, we'll all just have to imagine the superlatives he'd have used to describe the novel or essay collection we hold—and bookmark our pages with tears.


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