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Lara Vapnyar biography

Author Biography  | Interview  | Books by this Author  | Read-Alikes

Lara Vapnyar
© Sigrid Estrada

Lara Vapnyar

How to pronounce Lara Vapnyar: Vap-nee-arh

Lara Vapnyar Biography

Lara Vapnyar came to the US from Russia in 1994. She is a recipient of the Guggenheim fellowship, and Goldberg Prize for Jewish fiction. She is the author of There Are Jews in My House, Memoirs of a Muse, Broccoli and Other Tales of Food and Love, The Scent of Pine, and Still Here. Her stories and essays have appeared in the New Yorker, the New York Times, Harper's, and Vogue.



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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
Divide Me By Zero jacket Still Here jacket Broccoli and Other Tales of Food and Love jacket Memoirs of a Muse jacket
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Read-Alikes

All the books below are recommended as read-alikes 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 read-alikes

  • Alina Adams

    Alina Adams

    Alina Adams was born in Odessa, Ukraine, and immigrated with her parents to the U.S. in 1977 at age seven, where she learned English by watching American soap operas at their home in San Francisco.

    Alina is a fiction ... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    Divide Me By Zero

    Try:
    The Nesting Dolls
    by Alina Adams

  • Rachel Barenbaum

    Rachel Barenbaum

    Rachel is a prolific writer and reviewer and her work has appeared in the LA Review of Books, the Tel Aviv Review of Books and DeadDarlings. She is an Honorary Research Associate at the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute at Brandeis... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    Divide Me By Zero

    Try:
    Atomic Anna
    by Rachel Barenbaum

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