Extraordinary. I love every word Shteyngart’s ever written, and this is his best novel by an upstate country mile. I said I never wanted to read a 2020 pandemic novel, but I was wrong. I needed to read one – this one.— Chris Lee
An aging Russian emigre writer facing the collapse of his career gathers a few friends to ride-out COVID in his Hudson Valley estate, complete with cabins for his guests. The story is generously sprinkled with farce and self-absorption, heady, funny, and occasionally cruel mealtime conversations, both self-inflicted and other-inflicted pain, and yes, joy. Gorgeous writing will leave images of Our Country Friends dancing in your head for days.— Kay Wosewick
Eight friends, one country house, four romances, and six months in isolation—a novel about love, friendship, family, and betrayal, a book that reads like a great Russian novel, or Chekhov on the Hudson, by a novelist The New York Times calls “one of his generation’s most original writers.”
“A masterpiece . . . There cannot be a more relevant novel for our moment, certainly not one with such beauty of description, depth of feeling, and, as always, humor.”—Andrew Sean Greer, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Less
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 includes 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 Southern flamethrower of an essayist; and a movie star, the Actor, whose arrival upsets the equilibrium of this chosen family. Both elegiac and very, very funny, Our Country Friends is the most ambitious book yet by the author of the beloved bestseller Super Sad True Love Story.
About the Author
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.
“Shteyngart knows how to make you belly laugh, and he’s in his element here, poking fun at the claustrophobia of privilege. He perfectly captures the nature of adult friendships and the petty jealousies, disappointments, and dependencies that can define them.”—Vulture
“In the backdrop of the pandemic, Gary Shteyngart gathers his memorable characters in a shelter, where they cook, seduce, and reconsider life’s meaning. . . . Like The Decameron, Shteyngart’s Our Country Friends reminds us that even in darkness, light promises to return if we reach for love and art.”—Min Jin Lee, author of Pachinko, finalist for the National Book Award
“Gary Shteyngart is a national treasure. He has always written with great humor and heart, but never more so than here. Be careful reading this book in public; it is as likely to make you laugh out loud as cry.”—Jonathan Safran Foer, author of Here I Am
“I cannot say enough how much I loved Our Country Friends. It’s a tragicomic tour de force about so many things—sex, infatuation, the pandemic, kimchi, racism, immigration, adoption, stalking, Russian writers, K-pop, Japanese reality TV, writing—but most of all, it’s about how we create, sever, and mend lifelong bonds of friendship, how we wound and heal those we love most. It’s the rare book that, when you turn to the last page, leaves you grateful to the author for creating this world and allowing you in for a time, but also a little sad, filled with regret at having to leave it.”—Angie Kim, author of Miracle Creek
“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
“Shteyngart’s big-hearted drama is timely yet timeless with its penetrating and nuanced social commentary exploring identity, racism, celebrity culture, social media, and humanity. Above all, Shteyngart artfully exemplifies love in its many registers—parental, brotherly, romantic—in what is ultimately a ‘super sad true love’ story.”—Booklist (starred review)
“The Great American Pandemic Novel only Shteyngart could write, full of hyphenated identities, killer prose, and wild vitality.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)