disclosure: we were sent the item mentioned for the purpose of review
Our Country Friends by Gary Shteyngart was published through Allen and Unwin in January this year and it’s been my first experience with this particular author.
Set in March 2020 in upstate New York as the Covid pandemic has begun and is still very much an unknown entity. We meet Russian born Sasha Senderovsky, his wife Masha and their adopted Korean eight-year-old daughter Nat. He’s a fading star of the literary world, she’s a psychiatrist paranoid about coronavirus and keeping them safe from it and their daughter is obsessed with the K-pop phenomena. They have left the city behind them to hide away from the virus in their Hudson Valley bungalow colony and Senderovsky has decided to invite a group of friends along to form their own community over a six month period.
In Our Country Friends, we watch on as friendships grow and evolve and romances blossom amongst this unlikely group of people. As the group arrives we are introduced to Senderovsky’s oldest friends, successful Korean app developer, Karen Cho, and Indian Vinod Mehta as well as Karen’s distant cousin, American-Korean Ed, and one of Sasha’s brightest students, Dee Cameron. The group are all eagerly awaiting the arrival of ‘The Actor’, none more so than Senderovsky himself. He is counting on The Actor to approve his screenplay which he is relying on to change his fortunes, both from a career perspective but also from a financial one.
I did find the pace of Our Country Friends very slow-moving and I didn’t really take to any of the characters in this novel, so I found it a bit frustrating at times. I really wanted to invest in this novel, but it just didn’t work as well for me as I’d hoped. I’m sure others will disagree and that’s the beauty of literature, it’s very subjective isn’t it. We can’t all love everything we read.
I’ve included my Amazon Affiliate link below (I do earn from qualifying purchases) and I’d love to know your thoughts if you read the book for yourself.