Our Country Friends was the winter 2022 LARB Book Club pick. To join the Book Club, where we put you in conversation with editors and members and send a copy of the selected title to your door, become a LARB Friend member today.
“You can retreat from global catastrophe but your private calamities will come and find you. Gary Shteyngart’s most moving novel, Chekhov and Boccaccio reimagined in America in the year of the pandemic, is a powerful fable of our broken time.” —Salman Rushdie, Booker Prize-winning author of Midnight's Children
OUR COUNTRY FRIENDS (Random House), marks the beginning of a new era for Gary Shteyngart. While still very funny and deeply clever, Shteyngart has put satire aside to write his most ambitious and emotionally resonant novel yet – think The Big Chill meets Chekov. Written in real time over the course of the pandemic, OUR COUNTRY FRIENDS is at once humorous, tender, and altogether unforgettable.
It’s March 2020 and a calamity is unfolding. A group of friends and friends-of-friends gathers in a country house to wait out the pandemic. Over the next six months new friendships and romances will take hold, while old betrayals will emerge, forcing each character to reevaluate whom they love and what matters most. The unlikely cast of characters include: a Russian-born novelist; his Russian-born psychiatrist wife; their precocious child obsessed with K-pop; a struggling Indian American writer; a wildly successful Korean American app developer; a global dandy with three passports; a young flame-thrower of an essayist, originally from the Carolinas; and a movie star, The Actor, whose arrival upsets the equilibrium of this chosen family.
In a remarkable literary feat, Shteyngart has documented through fiction the emotional toll of our recent times: a story of love and friendship that reads like a great Russian novel set in upstate New York. Both elegiac and very, very funny, OUR COUNTRY FRIENDS is Shteyngart’s most ambitious book yet.
Gary Shteyngart was born in Leningrad in 1972 and came to the United States seven years later. His debut novel, The Russian Debutante’s Handbook, won the Stephen Crane Award for First Fiction and the National Jewish Book Award for Fiction. His second novel, Absurdistan, was named one of the 10 Best Books of the Year by The New York Times Book Review. His novel Super Sad True Love Story won the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize and became one of the most iconic novels of the decade. His memoir, Little Failure, was a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist and a New York Times bestseller. His most recent novel is Lake Success. His books regularly appear on best-of lists around the world and have been published in thirty countries.
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