A Russian-born American writer of satirical novels, he is best known for The Russian Debutante's Handbook, Super Sad True Love Story, and Absurdistan. He also published a 2014 memoir entitled Little Failure.
He attended both Oberlin College and Hunter College of the City University of New York.
He taught creative writing at Columbia University.
He and his family immigrated to the United States in 1979. Until he was fourteen years old, he spoke with a heavy Russian accent.
He and A.A. Milne both published stories in Granta.