Our Country Friends: A Novel (Paperback)
November 2021 Indie Next List
“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, Boswell Book Company, Milwaukee, WI
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • GOOD MORNING AMERICA BUZZ PICK • ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR: The New York Times Book Review, Financial Times, The Washington Post, Time, Los Angeles Times, New York Post, Town & Country, Good Housekeeping, Kirkus Reviews
Finalist for the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for Comic Fiction • Longlisted for the Joyce Carol Oates Prize • “A perfect novel for these times and all times, the single textual artifact from the pandemic era I would place in a time capsule as a representation of all that is good and true and beautiful about literature.”—Molly Young, The New York Times (Editors’ Choice)
Eight friends, one country house, and six months in isolation—a novel about love, friendship, family, and betrayal hailed as a “virtuoso performance” (USA Today) and “an homage to Chekhov with four romances and a finale that will break your heart” (The Washington Post)
In the rolling hills of upstate New York, 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.
“The novel’s strengths abound. It upends clichés, pieties and commonplaces while also noticing salient details of the lockdown.”—The New York Times Book Review
“Our Country Friends has all [Shteyngart’s] usual humor and absurdity, but it’s deepened by a new empathy.”—Los Angeles Times
“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)