Lake Success: A Novel

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Somewhere between the lead up to the 2016 election and its aftermath, Barry Cohen is riding a bus. A Greyhound bus, in fact, that takes him away from his most spectacular failures and successes in Manhattan—home to his wife Seema and autistic son Shiva—back to the places that shaped him as a young man. Back to who he was when the mere existence of the town of Lake Success, NY was enough to make him dream about his own future.

Gary Shteyngart’s most recent novel Lake Success is equal parts a meditation on the difficulties of marriage and childrearing and an examination of the way people in the upper tier of the socioeconomic class system in America grappled with the 2016 election. The book is at turns rollicking, hilarious, dark, and sad—there is a particularly heartbreaking moment involving Seema’s fear about her son having a playdate with a little boy who is not on the spectrum—but it is, at its heart, mostly honest. Over and over again, I found myself nearly breathless with the sheer humanity of these characters whose lives are nothing like mine but whose central questions about life and its meaning are as familiar as my own face in the mirror.

Lake Success does what so many other novels try to do in that it tackles how hard it is to be a human without giving answers. Instead, it is simply the portrait of one man trying to get his life right as he grows up and begins to take responsibility for himself far later in life than most of us have to do. Shteyngart fans and new readers just discovering him will relish this wild and poignant portrait of 21st century America.

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Star Count 5/5
Format Hard
Page Count 352 pages
Publisher Random House
Publish Date 2018-Sep-04
ISBN 9780812997415 Buy this Book
Issue November 2018
Category Modern Literature


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