Novelist Gary Shteyngart was a wheezing, asthmatic and fearful 7-year-old when he and his parents emigrated from the Soviet Union to Queens, New York, in 1979. (This was soon after America negotiated a trade deal with the Soviets that included allowing Jews to immigrate to Israel, Canada or the U. S.) He tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross that his health was a deciding factor in his parents' decision to move.
Originally published on Tue January 7, 2014 1:42 pm
In the story that opens Leaving the Sea, two men begin conversing at a family party. Rick, the more straight-laced of the two, turns to his brother-in-law and says: "I love family."
The second man, Paul, replies by saying: "Oh, hey, did someone get hurt tonight?" Rick looks worried. Then Paul adds to the confusion by claiming to have seen a stretcher go into the hotel. The way this sentence is structured ensures that the reader mentally prepares for some awful event. But it never materializes. The author never mentions this incident again.
In the years following the Sept. 11 attacks, many Americans heard the term "waterboarding" for the first time — a technique aimed to simulate the act of drowning. Waterboarding was at the center of the debate about what the CIA called "enhanced interrogation techniques" — and what critics called "torture."
John Rizzo, acting general counsel of the CIA in the years after Sept. 11, 2001, has written a memoir about his three decades at the agency. He talks with NPR's Renee Montagne about Company Man: Thirty Years of Controversy and Crisis in the CIA.