Our Country Friends

Fri, May 13

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Our Country Friends

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Time & Location

May 13, 3:30 PM

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About the event

The Levin-Senderovskys—Sasha, Masha, and little Natasha—wait out the virus at their country estate with four close friends and one movie star.

One of Sasha Senderovsky's fondest memories of his childhood is the bungalow colony catering to Russian immigrant families where he first met his wife, Masha. With the proceeds of his once-successful writing career, he has built a colony of his own, though it's in an area of New York state where a deconstructed swastika is becoming a popular bumper sticker, and he's having trouble scraping together the cash to get the dead tree limbs out of the driveway before the party starts. Karen Cho and Vinod Mehta have been his best friends since high school. She's stratospherically rich after creating an app that makes people fall in love; he's failed at everything except being a very good person and loving Karen ceaselessly from afar. They are joined by Karen's distant cousin, an international dandy named Ed; Senderovsky's beautiful former student Dee, who leverages her Southern drawl and heritage to great effect on and off the page; and someone known only as the Actor, whose fame, charisma, and good looks are almost beyond description. Except Shteyngart, most recently of the fantastic Lake Success(2018) and most famously of Super Sad True Love Story (2010), can describe anything. Russian: "a language built around the exhalation of warmth and pain." Cheeses: "so filled with aromatic herbs they inspired (on Senderovsky's part) memories that had never happened." One could go on. When the curtain rises on the House on the Hill, as the place is known, it's early March 2020; Senderovsky has to ask his guests to refrain from hugging because "Masha's gone all epidemiological." Everyone seems to gather that they'll be staying for a while, but, of course, they have no idea. Uncle Vanya, K-pop, and Japanese reality TV will all play important roles, and just about everyone gets to fall in love.

The Great American Pandemic Novel only Shteyngart could write, full of hyphenated identities, killer prose, and wild vitality.