By Michael McNulty, European Regional Library Support CenterJuly 20, 2009
HEIDELBERG, Germany - Army Europe Libraries continues its "Conversations" literary discussion series in August with Gary Shteyngart, critically-acclaimed author of "Absurdistan" and "The Russian Debutante's Handbook".
Shteyngart will visit eight garrison libraries across the region to engage soldiers and family members with creative-writing workshops, readings of his work, and open discussions. Shteyngart's tour, supported by Installation Management Command-Europe Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation, begins Aug. 10 at the U.S. Army Garrison Mannheim, Germany, Library and concludes Aug. 19 at the library on USAG Schweinfurt, Germany.
The events are free and open to U.S. servicemembers and their families. Shteyngart's writing workshops will begin at 5:30 p.m. on the day of each garrison library visit. The reading and discussion sessions will follow at 7 p.m.
Christina Kruger, a librarian at the European Regional Library Support Center in Heidelberg, oversees the "Conversations" series and has been planning for Shteyngart's visit for several months.
"Shteyngart is not only a rising star on the literary scene but he also teaches creative writing at Columbia University and Princeton University," said Kruger. "Anyone interested in the creative writing process will really find this program inspirational."
Shteyngart was born in Leningrad, Soviet Union, in 1972 and moved to the United States when he was seven.
His debut novel "The Russian Debutante's Handbook" was published in 2003 and won the Stephen Crane Award for First Fiction and the National Jewish Book Award for Fiction. His latest novel "Absurdistan" was published in 2006 and was chosen as one of the top ten best books of the year by the New York Times Book Review and Time Magazine, as well as book of the year by the Washington Post, Chicago Tribune and the San Francisco Chronicle.
Shteyngart's fiction and essays have appeared in The New Yorker, Granta, GQ, Esquire, The New York Times Magazine, and many other publications. He is also a contributing editor to Travel & Leisure magazine. One of his travelogues is included in the Best American Travel Writing of 2006 anthology. He currently teaches creative writing at Columbia University and Princeton University and lives in New York City.
Walter Kirn reviewed "Absurdistan" for the 2006 New York Times Book Review and gave the novel and its author high praise.
"Compared with most young novelists his age, who tend toward cutesy involution, Shteyngart is a giant mounted on horseback," said Kirn. "He ranges more widely, sees more sweepingly and gets where he's going with far more aplomb. His Absurdistan, to Americans, may seem amusingly far away at first, but the longer one spends there...the closer and more recognizable it gets."
Stacy Graham, the Europe Region librarian, said the "Conversations" series is becoming an increasingly popular treasure for the Library program.
"This program offers a unique opportunity for people in our military communities to meet notable authors," said Graham. "It not only gives us a glimpse into the world of art and literature, but it also gives these writers the opportunity to meet the men, women and children in our military communities."
Places and dates of events are:
USAG Mannheim Library: Monday, Aug. 10;
USAG Baumholder Library: Tuesday, Aug. 11;
USAG Kaiserslautern Library: Wednesday, Aug. 12;
USAG Heidelberg Library: Thursday, Aug. 13;
USAG Garmisch Library: Sunday, Aug. 16;
USAG Stuttgart Library: Monday, Aug. 17;
USAG Hohenfels Library: Tuesday, Aug. 18;
USAG Schweinfurt Library: Wednesday, Aug. 19.
For more information visit the Army Europe Libraries Web site at www.library.eur.army.mil/conversations.