One Minute With: Gary Shteyngart, novelist

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The Independent Culture

Where are you now and what can you see?

In bed at my home in Manhattan. I can see my navel. I'm gazing at it.

What are you currently reading?

A biography of Joseph Heller – 'Just One Catch'. God, I wish I were him. But he's dead. I blurb a lot of books and I loved it. I blurbed the hell out of it.

Choose a favourite author, and say why you like her/him

Nabokov. Because he write real good even though English no his native tongue... I like 'Pnin' a lot because it's about a befuddled Russian immigrant, which is what I am. You could say he influenced me. I've basically ripped off everything he has done, added on [David] Sedaris humour and called it my own.

Describe the room where you usually write

In my bedroom. It has mid-century furniture, lots of light but is still conducive to feelings of melancholy and depression. It is very cold and austere with white walls – because colour makes me confused - and it looks a bit like a fancy insane asylum. I write in bed, with my laptop perched on my chest. There are no books around. My book are in the books room.

What are your readers like when you meet them?

Pretty cute. Lots of trendy glasses. In the summer occasional baring of midriff. And those are just the men.

What distracts you from writing?

Everything... I have not read [books] since the Internet. It's on the all the time. I had no idea you could unplug it.

Which fictional character most resembles you?

That dude in [Martin Amis's novel] 'Money'. The fat one. It's aspirational. I want to be much bigger than I am.

Who is your hero/heroine from outside literature?

Queen Elizabeth of course. And Goofy. The queen because she looks like a very strong monarch in times of national crisis who could carry you across a river or out of a burning building. [I am a monarchist] if the monarch has a strong upper body.

'Super Sad True Love Story' by Gary Shteyngart is published by Granta

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