Sam, one of the frustrated antiheroes of Keith Gessen’s new novel, All the Sad Young Literary Men, spends most of his twenties attempting to write “the first great Zionist epic.” His peer Mark is stuck in Syracuse, stymied by his efforts to finish a dissertation on the Russian Revolution. The novel’s third protagonist, Keith, is preoccupied by the outcome of the 2000 U.S. presidential election.
Set in the first years of this century, Gessen’s debut novel began as a series of short stories, and it is garnering great reviews. Nextbook spoke with Gessen, a founder of the intellectual culture magazine n+1, about his satirical take on these intellectually voracious but often pathetic characters, his (and Sam’s) troubled relationship with Israel (about which you can read an excerpt here), and his admiration for the men who founded Dissent and Partisan Review.
Photo © Anne Diebel.