Allen & Unwin scoops Shteyngart's pandemic-themed novel

Allen & Unwin scoops Shteyngart's pandemic-themed novel

Allen & Unwin UK has secured Gary Shteyngart's novel about a group of friends waiting out the pandemic in isolation.

Ed Faulkner, publisher at Allen & Unwin UK, bought UK and Commonwealth rights, including audio, from Denise Cronin at Penguin Random House US, scheduled for release in hardback and trade paperback in January 2022.

Our Country Friends follows eight people in a  country house, four romances and six months in isolation and is a story about love, friendship, family and betrayal.

The synopsis reads: "In the rolling hills of upstate New York, 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 everyone to reevaluate whom they love and what matters most to them. 

"The unlikely cast of characters includes a Russian-born novelist and his 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 Southern flamethrower of an essayist and a movie star, the Actor, whose arrival upsets the equilibrium of this chosen family.

"Both elegiac and very, very funny, Our Country Friends is the most ambitious book yet by the author of the international bestseller Super Sad True Love Story".

Shteyngart was born in Leningrad in 1972 and came to the US seven years later. His debut novel, The Russian Debutante’s Handbook (Riverhead Books), won the Stephen Crane Award for First Fiction and the National Jewish Book Award for Fiction. His second novel, Absurdistan (Granta), was named one of the 10 Best Books of 2006 by The New York Times Book Review. His novel Super Sad True Love Story (Granta) won the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize and became one of the most iconic novels of the decade. His memoir Little Failure, (Penguin) was a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist and a New York Times bestseller.

Faulkner said, "I was a junior editor at Bloomsbury in 2003 when they published Gary’s award-winning debut novel The Russian Debutante’s Handbook and I have been a huge fan of his writing ever since, so I am enormously excited to be publishing Gary and his brilliant new novel Our Country Friends at Allen & Unwin. Our Country Friends is very funny, acutely observed and has a lot of heart. It is a true privilege to be publishing it."

Shteyngart added: "I am very excited to join the great list at Allen & Unwin, and can't wait to return to the UK one day to meet my terrific readers."