Little Failure: A Memoir

Editorial reviews

Little Failure: A Memoir

He is that rare specimen, a writer who gets better with every book.

In the end there are no cheap jokes, only a very talented writer risking far more than he has prepared you to expect, which is, alas, its own kind of Failurchka.

On every level, Little Failure is a great success.

With the publication of Little Failure, Shteyngart has reached a critical juncture in his career as a writer.

Little Failure provides readers with a ride they will not regret. Hopefully, Shteyngart will revisit this material in more depth in future novels.

Little Failure is a bit like looking at a macroscopic image, and for that it’s hard not to admire the author’s bravery in bearing the most private aspects of his life, blemishes and all.

Flayingly forthright memoir that should become a classic of the immigrant narrative genre.

It’s raw, comic and deeply affecting, a testament to Mr. Shteyngart’s abilities to write with both self-mocking humor and introspective wisdom, sharp-edged sarcasm and aching — and yes, Chekhovian — tenderness.

It's an eccentric but moving account of one family's conflicts and travails and a boy writer who finally came through and, of course, is still coming through.

Shteyngart’s story couldn’t be more different from Nabokov’s, but he nimbly achieves the noble Nabokovian goal of letting sentiment in without ever becoming sentimental.

“Little Failure” is so packed with humor, it’s easy to overlook the rage, but it’s there, and it’s part of what makes the book so compelling.

Little Failure is a rich, nuanced memoir. It's an immigrant story, a coming-of-age story, a becoming-a-writer story, and a becoming-a-mensch story, and in all these ways it is, unambivalently, a success.