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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

Finding love in Upstate New York

Gary Shteyngart

Thursday, April 21, 2022
Craft talk on writing - 4:30 p.m.
Multi-Purpose Room, Campus Center West 
Conversation/Q&A - 7:30 p.m.
Campus Center West Auditorium
University at Albany, 1400 Washington Avenue, Albany 12222
View map

Free and open to the public.

Gary Shteyngart, major American novelist, is the author most recently of Our Country Friends: A Novel (2021), a story of various relationships and romances that unfold over the course of six months among a group of friends who take refuge in the rolling hills of Upstate New York during the pandemic.

Writing for the New York Times, Molly Young called it, “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.”

The book was named a “Best Book of the Year” by the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Good Housekeeping and TIME. Earlier bestselling novels include Lake Success, Super Sad True Love Story, Absurdistan and The Russian Debutante’s Handbook.

Gary Shteyngart, Our Country Friends 400.jpg

About the book:

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.

Gary Shteyngart, credit TONY CENICOLA, NYT 300-copy-400.jpg

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, as well as a best book of the year by Time, The Washington Post, Book World, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Chicago Tribune, and many other publications.

His work has appeared in The New Yorker, Esquire, GQ, and Travel + Leisure and his books have been translated into more than 20 languages. He lives in New York City and in northern Dutchess County, in the Hudson River Valley where he does nearly all of his writing.

He last visited the NYS Writers Institute in 2011. See video excerpt.

Photo credit: Tony Cenicola, New York Times

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