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Lake Success
Cover of Lake Success
Lake Success
A Novel
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"Spectacular."—NPR • "Uproariously funny."—The Boston Globe • "An artistic triumph."—San Francisco Chronicle • "A novel in which comedy and pathos are exquisitely balanced."—The Washington Post • "Shteyngart's best book."—The Seattle Times

The bestselling author of Super Sad True Love Story returns with a biting, brilliant, emotionally resonant novel very much of our times.

NAMED ONE OF THE TEN BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE AND MAUREEN CORRIGAN, NPR'S FRESH AIR AND NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The New York Times Book Review • NPR • The Washington Post O: The Oprah Magazine Mother Jones Glamour Library Journal Kirkus Reviews Newsday • Pamela Paul, KQED • Financial Times The Globe and Mail

Narcissistic, hilariously self-deluded, and divorced from the real world as most of us know it, hedge-fund manager Barry Cohen oversees $2.4 billion in assets. Deeply stressed by an SEC investigation and by his three-year-old son's diagnosis of autism, he flees New York on a Greyhound bus in search of a simpler, more romantic life with his old college sweetheart. Meanwhile, his super-smart wife, Seema—a driven first-generation American who craved the picture-perfect life that comes with wealth—has her own demons to face. How these two flawed characters navigate the Shteyngartian chaos of their own making is at the heart of this piercing exploration of the 0.1 Percent, a poignant tale of familial longing and an unsentimental ode to what really makes America great.
LONGLISTED FOR THE CARNEGIE MEDAL FOR EXCELLENCE IN FICTION
"The fuel and oxygen of immigrant literature—movement, exile, nostalgia, cultural disorientation—are what fire the pistons of this trenchant and panoramic novel. . . . [It is] a novel so pungent, so frisky and so intent on probing the dissonances and delusions—both individual and collective—that grip this strange land getting stranger."The New York Times Book Review
"Shteyngart, perhaps more than any American writer of his generation, is a natural. He is light, stinging, insolent and melancholy. . . . The wit and the immigrant's sense of heartbreak—he was born in Russia—just seem to pour from him. The idea of riding along behind Shteyngart as he glides across America in the early age of Trump is a propitious one. He doesn't disappoint."The New York Times
"Spectacular."—NPR • "Uproariously funny."—The Boston Globe • "An artistic triumph."—San Francisco Chronicle • "A novel in which comedy and pathos are exquisitely balanced."—The Washington Post • "Shteyngart's best book."—The Seattle Times

The bestselling author of Super Sad True Love Story returns with a biting, brilliant, emotionally resonant novel very much of our times.

NAMED ONE OF THE TEN BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE AND MAUREEN CORRIGAN, NPR'S FRESH AIR AND NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The New York Times Book Review • NPR • The Washington Post O: The Oprah Magazine Mother Jones Glamour Library Journal Kirkus Reviews Newsday • Pamela Paul, KQED • Financial Times The Globe and Mail

Narcissistic, hilariously self-deluded, and divorced from the real world as most of us know it, hedge-fund manager Barry Cohen oversees $2.4 billion in assets. Deeply stressed by an SEC investigation and by his three-year-old son's diagnosis of autism, he flees New York on a Greyhound bus in search of a simpler, more romantic life with his old college sweetheart. Meanwhile, his super-smart wife, Seema—a driven first-generation American who craved the picture-perfect life that comes with wealth—has her own demons to face. How these two flawed characters navigate the Shteyngartian chaos of their own making is at the heart of this piercing exploration of the 0.1 Percent, a poignant tale of familial longing and an unsentimental ode to what really makes America great.
LONGLISTED FOR THE CARNEGIE MEDAL FOR EXCELLENCE IN FICTION
"The fuel and oxygen of immigrant literature—movement, exile, nostalgia, cultural disorientation—are what fire the pistons of this trenchant and panoramic novel. . . . [It is] a novel so pungent, so frisky and so intent on probing the dissonances and delusions—both individual and collective—that grip this strange land getting stranger."The New York Times Book Review
"Shteyngart, perhaps more than any American writer of his generation, is a natural. He is light, stinging, insolent and melancholy. . . . The wit and the immigrant's sense of heartbreak—he was born in Russia—just seem to pour from him. The idea of riding along behind Shteyngart as he glides across America in the early age of Trump is a propitious one. He doesn't disappoint."The New York Times
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  • From the book 1

    Destination America

    Barry Cohen, a man with 2.4 billion dollars of assets under management, staggered into the Port Authority Bus Terminal. He was visibly drunk and bleeding. There was a clean slice above his left brow where the nanny's fingernail had gouged him and, from his wife, a teardrop scratch below his eye. It was 3:20 a.m.

    The last time he had been to the Port Authority was twenty-four years ago. He had gone on a bus trip to Richmond, Virginia, to see his college girlfriend. That youthful bus ride unspooled in his mind whenever the S&P was crushing him or whenever he would discover a new and terrible fact about his son's condition. When Barry closed his eyes, he could picture the sweep of the highway, his country calling out to him from both sides of the road. He could feel himself sitting on a hard wooden bench at some roadside shack. A thick woman with a crablike walk and many stories to tell would bring him a plate of vinegary beans and pulled pork. They would talk as equals about where their lives went wrong, and she would waive the price of the meal, and he would pay for it anyway. And she would say, Thank you, Barry, because despite the vast difference in their assets under management, they would already be on a first-name basis.

    He stumbled over to the line of policemen and policewomen guarding the nighttime barricades meant to shepherd travelers from the streets to the gates. "Where are the buses?" he said. "I want to get out of here."

    To the cops he looked like just another New Yorker. A bleeding man; roughed-up, sweat-clumped nighttime hair; a Patagonia vest over his Vineyard Vines shirt with the single word citi. He was tall and had a wide swimmer's build, his thick shoulders tapering to two feminine wrists, a liability at any point in history, but never more so than during the year 2016, at the start of the First Summer of Trump. He was breathing heavily after having dragged a carry-on rollerboard from his apartment on Madison Square Park, a total of twenty blocks. The night was warm and windy, a perfect Manhattan I-don't-want-to-die kind of night, and with each block he walked he had felt more assured of what he was about to do to his marriage.

    "Downstairs," one of the cops said.

    Barry did as he was told, the little rollerboard twisting behind him. The air here was different. He could say with certainty that he had not in recent memory, or any memory, really, breathed air of this quality. The easy way to describe it would be to say that it smelled like a foot. But whose foot? The man was not in the habit of smelling feet, except perhaps in the locker room at Equinox where his own feet smelled of chlorine, because he swam. His wife's feet, he was sure, smelled of honeysuckle like the rest of her, but he was not going to think of her now.

    There was a Greyhound counter, but its gate was shuttered and there was no note about when it would reopen. "Socialism," Barry said aloud, even though he knew that Greyhound Lines was a Dallas-based subsidiary of the Scottish company FirstGroup, and not a service offered by our government. He had drunk twenty thousand dollars' worth of Karuizawa whiskey that night. He could make mistakes.

    There was a Hudson newsstand and Barry headed for the old South Asian man behind the counter. "Where are the buses?" he said.

    "Downstairs," the old man answered.

    "I am downstairs."

    The old Indian shrugged. He was watching Barry and his bleeding face with his hooded eyes as if he wanted in on his ruination. Barry hated him. He could hate him because his wife was Indian.

    "Do you have WatchTime magazine?"

    "No."

    "Watch...
About the Author-
  • Gary Shteyngart is the New York Times bestselling author of the memoir Little Failure (a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist) and the novels Super Sad True Love Story (winner of the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize), Absurdistan, and The Russian Debutante's Handbook (winner of the Stephen Crane Award for First Fiction and the National Jewish Book Award for Fiction). His books regularly appear on best-of lists around the world and have been published in thirty countries.
Reviews-
  • Library Journal

    April 1, 2018

    In his first novel in seven years, relentlessly best-booked Shteyngart (e.g., Absurdistan) introduces us to ultrarich but clueless and self-absorbed hedge fund manager Barry Cohen, upset by an SEC investigation and his son's diagnosis of autism, who runs cross-country on a Greyhound bus as visions of uncomplicated romance with his high school sweetheart dance in his head. His ambitious, luxury-loving wife, a first-generation American, has her own problems.

    Copyright 2018 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Library Journal

    May 1, 2018

    In his first novel in seven years, relentlessly best-booked Shteyngart (e.g., Absurdistan) introduces us to ultrarich but clueless and self-absorbed hedge fund manager Barry Cohen, upset by an SEC investigation and his son's diagnosis of autism, who runs cross-country on a Greyhound bus as visions of uncomplicated romance with his high school sweetheart dance in his head. His ambitious, luxury-loving wife, a first-generation American, has her own problems.

    Copyright 2018 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Library Journal

    May 1, 2018

    Set before the 2016 election, this is the story of a midlife crisis of an individual--and perhaps of the nation. Barry Cohen is a New York hedge fund manager, a member of the .01 percent, married to a beautiful younger Indian American woman and scoring the game of life by people's incomes. Yet he has another side, the memories of a pool cleaner's son who dreamed of becoming a novelist (his hedge fund is called This Side of Capital) and Layla, the lost love he hasn't seen since college. When the SEC begins investigating, his marriage falters, and the challenges of raising an autistic son become overwhelming, Barry takes off, getting on a Greyhound for a trip to El Paso to find his Layla. Throwing his credit cards away, the wealthy Barry finds himself near penniless, rubbing shoulders with the 99 percent and learning something about himself along the way. VERDICT This is a road trip through a heartland both national and personal with one man's dysfunction echoing his country's as Barry attempts to escape the present only to have the present confront him in the end. Shteyngart's latest (after Super Sad True Love Story) is a hilarious, melancholic, and rapier-sharp tale for our times. [See Prepub Alert, 3/12/18.]--Lawrence Rungren, Andover, MA

    Copyright 2018 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Kirkus

    July 1, 2018
    A hedge fund manager on the skids takes a cross-country Greyhound bus trip to reconnect with his college girlfriend, leaving his wife to deal with their autistic 3-year-old."Barry Cohen, a man with 2.4 billion dollars of assets under management, staggered into the Port Authority Bus Terminal. He was visibly drunk and bleeding. There was a clean slice above his left brow where the nanny's fingernail had gouged him and, from his wife, a teardrop scratch below his eye." Shteyngart (Little Failure, 2014, etc.) gleefully sends Barry, on the run from troubles at work as well as his inability to face up to his son's recent diagnosis, on an odyssey that the author himself made on a Greyhound bus during the lead-up to the 2016 election, thus joining Salman Rushdie, Olivia Laing, Curtis Sittenfeld, and others with recent works set in the dawn of the Trump era. Barry is, in some ways, a bit of a Trump himself: He's from Queens, has a serious inferiority/superiority complex, has achieved his success through means other than actual financial genius. Barry, however, is a likable naif whose first stop is Baltimore, where he uses the "friend moves" he developed in middle school to bond with a crack dealer named Javon. He leaves Baltimore with a rock in his pocket and the dream of establishing an Urban Watch Fund, where he would share with underprivileged kids his obsession with Rolexes and Patek Phillipes as a means to self-betterment. In fact, Barry has left New York with not a single change of clothes, only a carry-on suitcase full of absurdly valuable watches. And now there's that crack rock. Off he goes to Richmond, Atlanta, Jackson, El Paso, Ciudad Juarez, Phoenix, and La Jolla, the home of an ex he's been out of touch with for years. Alternating chapters visit his wife, Seema, the daughter of Indian immigrants, who's back in New York with their silent son, Shiva, and his nanny, conducting an affair with a downstairs neighbor, a successful Guatemalan writer named Luis Goodman (whose biographical overlap with the real writer Francisco Goldman has all the markings of an inside joke).As good as anything we've seen from this author: smart, relevant, fundamentally warm-hearted, hilarious of course, and it has a great ending.

    COPYRIGHT(2018) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Booklist

    Starred review from July 1, 2018
    Shteyngart's acidly prescient novel Super Sad True Love Story (2010) looked to the near-future. This rambunctious tale of a morally challenged, on-the-run New York hedge-fund manager takes place during the incendiary 2016 presidential campaign. A deft satirist, Shteyngart revels in describing Barry Cohen's ludicrously elite environs and calculated strategies based on his belief that a hedge-fund manager must be a storyteller first and last. Barry's anxious striving stems from his unhappy adolescence in Queens, while a vestige of his abandoned literary dreams is found in the name of his fund, This Side of Capital, a cockeyed tribute to F. Scott Fitzgerald.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2018, American Library Association.)

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