Customer Review

30 November 2018
Gary Shteyngart’s new novel follows peripatetic hedge funder Barry Cohen as he bails out of his marriage to beautiful lawyer Seema, a Tamil, and on their 3 yo autistic son Shiva. He takes a road trip on Greyhound busses through Baltimore, Atlanta, Virginia, El Paso and California, losing on the way his phone, his credit cards, his collection of iconic watches and more than one unrealistic fantasy, in particular the one where he reconnects with his college girlfriend. He does reconnect with Layla, now a professor of sociology, but despite fancying himself as something of a writer back in the day, both Seema and Layla point out that his understanding of humanity is somewhat flawed. His adventures play out against a background of the Trump election and what that means plus the ongoing interest of authorities in whether he engaged in insider trading. His fund is going south at an alarming rate, but hey ... you make a few million, you lose a few. The portraits Shteyngart paints of life at the top of the earnings pile are funny and of course, not pretty. Other characters are beautifully drawn, such as Seema’s gentle father and domineering mother, Guatemalan writer Luis and his Chinese doctor wife, the Filippina nanny and so on. Shiva has severe autism and his portrayal is particularly sympathetic. It all ends up happily enough but the lesson is clear: don’t be one of these banking guys.
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