Lake Success by Gary Shteyngart review – America’s new age of discontent

The story of a hedge fund manager’s journey of self-discovery is timely and true – and absolutely comfortless

President Trump’s 20 months in office have been rancorous and divisive, but a bonanza for pundits and writers of non-fiction. Now fiction writers are turning up to the party, led by the American comic author Gary Shteyngart. His latest book is an ambitious state-of-the-nation novel about the miasma of discontents that produced the astonishing election result of 2016. Its central character is Barry Cohen, a hedge fund manager on the edge of a nervous breakdown. As the novel opens, his jittery mood parallels that of the country as a whole: envy and self-loathing exist side by side with a delusional love of an America that never really existed.

Barry has run off in a drunken funk, heading to New York’s Port Authority bus terminal with not much more than a case of ...