Publishing’s Most Prolific Blurber Immortalized on Film

In News by Dennis Abrams

By Dennis Abrams

He made his name as the author of such highly acclaimed comic novels as Absurdistan and Super Sad True Love Story. And now Gary Shteyngart’s fame is extending even further. As a world-class blurber.

Gary Shteyngart, the book biz's best blurber

Time magazine recently wrote:

And it’s not just books Shytengart praises in concise, Twitter-esque prose. He has blurbed literary venues. (On Pete’s Candy Store in Brooklyn: “Think of a fine pre-war dining car with an endless supply of booze.”) He’s blurbed Tweets. (“Simon Montefiore has written a classic tweet that will endure for hours.”) He’s blurbed newspaper articles about blurbs. (On A.J. Jacobs’ New York Times’ story “How to Blurb and Blurb and Blurb”: “The fact that A.J. Jacobs wrote this in 20 minutes, hung over in bed and dressed in his rubber-ducky pajamas, bespeaks of his superior talent.”) He’s even blurbed his own blurbs: “Gary Shteyngart’s blurbs are touching, funny and true. This is a blurber to watch.”

Shteyngart is theatrical, imaginative, funny and the most prolific book blurber in the industry. (That in itself kind of sounded like a blurb.)

His blurbs have inspired both a tumblr and a reading event. And now they’ve been immortalized in a documentary, created by Edward Champion.

The documentary features conversations with editors, pundits, critics (such as Ron Charles), cover designers, and authors (including but not limited to Karen Russell, A.M. Holmes and Dinaw Mengestu), many of whom have been blurbed by the tireless Mr. Shteyngart.

As Mr. Champion notes, “The documentary is narrated by the magnificent Jonathan Ames. It features cats and dogs and ice skaters and squirrels inveigled by money.”

Shteyngart himself describes what he does as “irrational exuberance…some books you read for as long as you have time to read, and get a general sense that it’s something you would enjoy reading to the end if you had the time.”

Watch the documentary here.

About the Author

Dennis Abrams

Dennis Abrams is a contributing editor for Publishing Perspectives, responsible for news, children's publishing and media. He's also a restaurant critic, literary blogger, and the author of "The Play's The Thing," a complete YA guide to the plays of William Shakespeare published by Pentian, as well as more than 30 YA biographies and histories for Chelsea House publishers.