Writer to Watch

To date, Keith Gessen has been best known as a founder of n+1, an upstart retro-fusty journal that channels the spirit of The New York Review of Books for the Google generation. That should change now that Gessen—a Russian-born, Harvard-educated critic and translator—has come out with his debut novel. Melding the headiness of Milan Kundera with the arch voice of Nick Hornby, All the Sad Young Literary Men (Viking) is a modern fable about three twentysomething college grads and their often comic attempts at self-awareness, literary greatness, and Internet dating. With great skill, Gessen is able to capture, say, the ethical dilemmas of both Middle East politics and drunken sex with a Gore girl.