Gary Shteyngart, “one of his generation’s most original and exhilarating writers,” according to the New York Times, celebrated the launch of his fifth novel, Our Country Friends. The novel examines friendship, betrayal, and isolation among eight friends waiting out a pandemic in a country house. Tony-winning actor Frank Wood performed a dramatic reading of excerpts from the novel followed by a conversation between Shteyngart and bestselling American essayist, Sloane Crosley. Brilliantly crafted and reflective of recent turmoil, Our Country Friends captures relationships in their most honest form during uncertain times.
Our Country Friends
By Gary Shteyngart
Published by Random House
You may know New York Times bestselling author Gary Shteyngart for the signature wit, sharp observations, and satirical flair that can be found at the heart of his previous novels such as Lake Success and Super Sad True Love Story. But his newest novel, Our Country Friends, marks the beginning of a new era for 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.
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.
Sloane Crosley is the author of the essay collections I Was Told There’d Be Cake, Look Alive Out There (both finalists for The Thurber Prize for American Humor), How Did You Get This Number, and the novel, The Clasp. She served as editor of The Best American Travel Writing series and is featured in The Library of America’s 50 Funniest American Writers, The Best American Nonrequired Reading, Phillip Lopate’s The Contemporary American Essay and others. Her work has appeared in Esquire, Vogue, the New York Times, the Guardian, New York magazine, and the New York Review of Books. She is a contributing editor at Vanity Fair and books columnist for Departures magazine. Her new novel, Cult Classic, will be out from FSG in June 2022. She lives in Manhattan.
Frank Wood won both the Tony Award and the Drama League Award for Sideman. He went on to play the role of “Gene” on London’s West End, and in Australia. His Broadway credits include The Great Society; Network; The Iceman Cometh; Clybourne Park; August: Osage County; Born Yesterday; and Hollywood Arms. His Off-Broadway credits include: The Perplexed, Manhattan Theatre Club; In the Blood, Signature; The Babylon Line, Lincoln Center; The Nether, MCC at The Lucille Lortel; Angels in America, Signature; and Spring Awakening, The Atlantic.
His work in film includes Joker; Detroit; Gold; St. Vincent; Changeling; Taking of Pelham 123; Dan in Real Life; Thirteen Days; Pollock; People I Know; In America; Down to You; and The Royal Tennenbaums. His television credits include Prodigal Son; Evil; Dopesick; Servant; Blacklist; The Get Down; The Night Of; Mozart in the Jungle; Newsroom; Younger; The Good Wife; Modern Family; Elementary; Blue Bloods; The Knick; Girls; Flight of the Conchords; Grey’s Anatomy; The Sopranos; and Law & Order: SVU. He has performed at regional theatres including Goodman Theatre; ACT; Long Wharf Theatre; Hartford Stage; Williamstown Theatre Festival; Cincinnati Playhouse; Arena Stage, DC; Mark Taper Forum; and New York Stage & Film. Frank received his BA from Wesleyan University and his MFA at the NYU Graduate Acting Program.