Gary Shteyngart Says Canadian Literature Is Boring, Then Apologizes Like A Canadian

Posted: Updated:
ROME, ITALY - JUNE 08: Author Gary Shteyngart attends a photocall as a part of Letterature 2011 - Festival Internazionale di Roma at Casa delle Letterature on June 8, 2011 in Rome, Italy. (Photo by Elisabetta A. Villa/Getty Images) | Elisabetta A. Villa via Getty Images

Only three months after a Canadian writer received the Nobel Prize for literature for the first time ever, one U.S. writer dismissed our literary traditions as boring.

Russian-American author Gary Shteyngart, who served as a juror for the 2012 Scotiabank Giller Prize, Canada's premier book award, told New York magazine's Vulture blog this week:

"Let me say this. I was the judge of a Canadian prize, and it’s subsidized, they all get grants. Out of a million entries, we found four or five really good ones, but people just don’t take the same damn risks! Maybe they want to please the Ontario Arts Council, or whatever it is."

His remarks elicited an immediate reaction from book lovers across the country. In response to a tweet from the Globe and Mail's Books section, Shteyngart wrote "I was in a drunken stupor when I said that," showcasing his familiarity with Canadian stories (if not, perhaps, the kind we're most proud of).

Since that interview was published Thursday, Shteyngart's entire Twitter feed has been filled with apologies for his comments, including gems like this:

And this:

It's no surprise the Canadian book community was quick to defend its narratives. It's been a year of high profile controversies for this normally above-the-fray group, from David Gilmour's comments about not being interested in teaching female authors to author Bret Easton Ellis' dismissal of Alice Munro as "overrated."

But in this instance, Shteyngart seemed to know when he was wrong — or at least, recognized that he didn't want to be politely ignored at his upcoming appearance in Toronto at the end of January.

Also on HuffPost:

Best Books In 2013
Share this
Current Slide

Suggest a correction

Around the Web

What It's Like to Get Drunk on Vodka With Gary Shteyngart

Gary Shteyngart Offers Some Jokes, Some Self-Analysis

'You Can't Be This Furry' And Other Life Lessons From Gary Shteyngart

Welcome to America. Enjoy the Free Napkins and Straws.

Best-selling novelist Gary Shteyngart is back with a memoir called, oddly ...

Author Gary Shteyngart feels heat for jab at CanLit, blames 'drunken ...

U.S. author Gary Shteyngart aggravates Canada's literary insecurity ...

Former Giller judge Gary Shteyngart claims Canadian ... - Quill & Quire

O Canada! American author sparks war of words | Books ...

Canadian fiction dull? Blame government: Grants creating 'a lack of funny in ...

Gary Shteyngart's Little Failure is an immigrant's SOS: Mallick

Lack of humour is a funny thing about Canadian writing