Our Country Friends Pdf Summary
Eight friends, one country house, four romances, and six months in isolation — a powerful, emotionally rich novel about love, friendship, 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 and exhilarating writers”.
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 reevaulate 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, Gary 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 the most ambitious book yet by the author of the beloved bestseller, Super Sad True Love Story.
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Our Country Friends Review
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TOP 500 REVIEWER
4.0 out of 5 stars It’s not the Great American Pandemic Novel
Reviewed in the United States on December 2, 2021
Here we have a great example of what happens when a brilliant comic writer decides to get “serious.” I’ve read four, and reviewed three, of Gary Shteyngart’s previous books. I loved the novels Absurdistan and Super Sad True Love Story and his memoir, Little Failure. I tolerated his later novel, Lake Success. But the man went too far with his newest novel, Our Country Friends.
The story is funny enough at times (although too few times), and the author’s style is uniquely his. Shteyngart writes as well as anyone in the trade today. The problem appears to be that he decided to become America’s Anton Chekhov and write the Great American Pandemic Novel. There are heavy-handed references to the 19th-century master’s most famous plays (Uncle Vanya and The Cherry Orchard), and Shteyngart’s characters appear to be yanked off the Russian stage. His alter ego, Sasha Senderovsky, a writer, is identified as “the landowner.” One of his friends, scion of a Korean chaebol family, is “a gentleman.” And a pivotal character is known to us only as “The Actor.” It’s really quite tedious.
WAITING OUT THE PANDEMIC, IN ISOLATION
Our Country Friends is set in the upstate New York artists’ colony that Senderovsky has built to host his friends. The action takes place in 2020. It reflects from afar the events that captured our attention in that fateful year: the COVID-19 pandemic and the insane final months of the Trump Administration.
Sasha, “the landowner,” lives in the main house at the colony with his wife, Masha Levin-Senderovsky, a psychiatrist and a Russian immigrant like him, and their adopted eight-year-old Korean-American daughter, Natasha (Nat). He has invited his two closest friends from high school. Vinod Mehta is an Indian-American who is “a former adjunct professor and short-order cook,” and Korean-American computer scientist Karen Cho is the now-wealthy inventor of a phone-dating app that has gone viral. Also in the party are Dee Cameron, “a writer and former student of Senderovsky’s”; Ed Kim, that “gentleman”; and the world-famous Actor who has promised to star in the television series he and Sasha are developing together. As a group, they’re identified as “colonists.” They’ve gathered together to wait out the pandemic in isolation.
Naturally, as the weeks drag by through the summer of 2020, these privileged and self-involved people become embroiled in one affair after another. Each one of them is cruelly challenged by the actions of others. Everyone is in awe of the Actor, and he (of course) turns out to be agent of the tragedy that threatens to tear the community apart. None of this is entirely predictable. But of course it all had to happen. The Great American Pandemic Novel it’s not.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Gary Shteyngart was born in 1972 in the Soviet Union in the city now called St. Petersburg. He emigrated with his parents to the United States at the age of seven and was raised in Queens, New York. Shteyngart holds a bachelor’s degree in politics from Oberlin College and an MFA from Hunter College of the City University of New York. He currently teaches writing at Columbia University. In addition to his memoir, he is the author of five novels published beginning in 2002.
Janet Sternburg aka JMS
3.0 out of 5 stars Wanting more
Reviewed in the United States on November 4, 2021
Too bad. He didn’t know how to end the book.The ending goes on and on, through a potted Uncle Vanya staging to numerous (seemingly endless) almost-death dream/hallucinations, to an ending that reminded me of D. M. Thomas’ “White Hote”l where it was once upon a time a wonderful vision, and original too because we hadn’t known yet about this sort of literary reconciliatory fantasy. Here it is reconciliation, leading to banal observation — one for which he needed to reference the Mahabharata: “the snakes of the world were to be marked for sacrifice, though in the end, they continue to live among us — because such is the universe.” And to the notion that family — with all its betrayals — is nonetheless worth accepting and holding on to. I write as one who loved ‘Absurdisitan” — who waited pleasurably for this new book, the so-called “masterpiece.” As diagnosis — at least in a few sections, of the ways by which what is wrong with our current world infects us who live in it, and vice versa — it’s on target. And there’s one set piece — Masha the wife with The Actor, he trying to get conditioner out of his hair after the shower water has stopped — that’s a tour de force. But I at least wanted something more — the sense of complexity entangled with possibility, entangled with impossibility, entangled with caring at times deeply, entangled finally with that largeness of earned depth that lingers, gives the reader, looking up, the sense of a changed world — that thing called literature — that is not there.
1.0 out of 5 stars Ever so boring
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on June 17, 2022
I loved super sad true love story and have read all of Gary’s books pre and post and have come to the conclusion that super sad true love story was his ‘one book’. The rest a
Have been between poorly written and lazy. This manages to be both.
What could have been a great ‘story of our times’ becomes a vacuous nonsensical waste of time.
About Gary Shteyngart Author of Our Country Friends Pdf Book
Gary Shteyngart Author Of Our Country Friends Pdf Book is an American writer born in Leningrad, USSR (he alternately calls it “St. Leningrad” or “St. Leninsburg”). Much of his work is satirical and relies on the invention of elaborately fictitious yet somehow familiar places and times.
His first novel, The Russian Debutante’s Handbook (2002), received the Stephen Crane Award for First Fiction and the National Jewish Book Award.
Our Country Friends pdf, Paperback, Hardcover Book Information
- Publisher : Random House; First Edition (November 2, 2021)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 336 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1984855123
- ISBN-13 : 978-1984855121
- Item Weight : 2.09 pounds
- Dimensions : 6.49 x 1.13 x 9.53 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #33,701 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- #112 in Friendship Fiction (Books)
- #227 in Fiction Satire
- #2,703 in Literary Fiction (Books)
- Customer Reviews: 3.7 out of 5 stars 3,189 ratings
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