Lara Vapnyar biography

Author Biography  | Interview  | Books by this Author  | Readalikes

Lara Vapnyar
© Sigrid Estrada

Lara Vapnyar

How to pronounce Lara Vapnyar: Vap-nee-arh

Lara Vapnyar Biography

Lara Vapnyar emigrated from Russia to New York in 1994 and began publishing short stories in English in 2002. She lives on Staten Island and is pursuing a Ph.D. in comparative literature at CUNY Graduate Center.



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Interview

Lara Vapnyar discusses her first novel, Memoirs of a Muse, about a Russian immigrant determined to become the muse of a famous artist.

The protagonist of Memoirs of a Muse is a young Russian immigrant named Tanya.  Raised by her single mother, a professor, Tanya escapes the drudgery of post-Cold War Moscow life by reading about Apollinaria Suslova, Dostoevsky's mistress and muse.  Tanya romanticizes that she too one day will become a muse like Suslova. After graduating from college, she immigrates to New York, but unlike her relatives before her, who try in more conventional ways to assimilate to American culture, she holds on to her ambition to be "special," to become the muse to a great American writer.

American readers might be unfamiliar with an ambition like Tanya's, especially since the novel is set in present-day New York City where most women define success quite differently, and may initially misunderstand Tanya's idea of a muse as being intentionally subservient to the man or artist. How does Tanya define the role of muse? Would Tanya have wanted the same thing for herself in Russia? Does Tanya represent something larger about young immigrant women?


First of all, Tanya has a very idealistic view of a role of muse. She doesn't think that a muse is subservient to an artist, but...

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Books by this Author

Books by Lara Vapnyar at BookBrowse
Still Here jacket Broccoli and Other Tales of Food and Love jacket Memoirs of a Muse jacket There Are Jews In My House jacket
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Readalikes

All the books below are recommended as readalikes for Lara Vapnyar but some maybe more relevant to you than others depending on which books by the author you have read and enjoyed. So look for the suggested read-alikes by title linked on the right.
How we choose readalikes

  • Ann Beattie

    Ann Beattie

    Ann Beattie has been included in four O. Henry Award Collections and in John Updike's The Best American Short Stories of the Century. In 2000, she received the PEN/Malamud Award for achievement in the short story form. ... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    There Are Jews In My House

    Try:
    Perfect Recall
    by Ann Beattie

  • Tom Bissell

    Tom Bissell

    Tom Bissell is the author of Chasing the Sea, God Lives in St. Petersburg, The Father of All Things, Why Video Games Matter, Magic Hours: Essays On Creators and Creation (2012) and Apostle: Travels Among the Tombs of the ... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    There Are Jews In My House

    Try:
    God Lives In St. Petersburg
    by Tom Bissell

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Book Discussion
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