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Lake Success

3.61  ·  Rating details ·  9,117 ratings  ·  1,192 reviews
Narcissistic, hilariously self-deluded, and divorced from the real world as most of us know it, hedge-fund manager Barry Cohen oversees $2.4 billion in assets. Deeply stressed by an SEC investigation and by his three-year-old son's diagnosis of autism, he flees New York on a Greyhound bus in search of a simpler, more romantic life with his old college sweetheart. Meanwhile ...more
Hardcover, 339 pages
Published September 4th 2018 by Random House
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Brian Lopez No, I don't believe so.
He was absolutely unchanged until the very end. Hears the word "college" and instantly thinks "Princeton! Better donate!" and …more
No, I don't believe so.
He was absolutely unchanged until the very end. Hears the word "college" and instantly thinks "Princeton! Better donate!" and still can't be happy for the immense achievement of his son going to college, he dismissed it with "I know he could've gone to Princeton".

I also wonder if the ending is sincere. The main storyline happened in 2016, the bar mitzvah is 10 years later, but then the story ends in 2016? Unless I really missed something (and please Im open to thoughts!) that made no sense to me. I wondered if ALL of this was Barry's book? Wanted to be a writer and the whole thing just ended so nicely..... Seema was thrilled with his bar mitzvah plan and it was this perfect day? Shiva not just acknowledged Barry but gave him the final bit, this moving beautiful bit? Seema says how "hes just like" Barry "friendliest guy" the most "half jewish man" ever. It felt so perfect. Too perfect, esp for Barry who's a pathetic loser. He really is, he's a sad loser who lives in a delusion and felt he had this "journey across America" where really he was dependent on others and he came off as pathetic. It all ended too perfectly, I think maybe it was all a fiction. Barry's book. If so.....this would mean nah he learned nothing, just another delusion.
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Average rating 3.61  · 
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Emily May
Jul 03, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: modern-lit, arc, 2018
The roof garden was divided into roughly two demographics: capital on one side, and cultural capital on the other. It wasn’t quite as split as a Hasidic wedding, gender-wise, but it was close enough, and Barry worked up the gumption to leave some of his Wall Street bros behind and wade into the more dangerous territory of feminine culture-meisters.

Lake Success contains some interesting themes and I can see why the critics are eating it up. It's also a good candidate for any number of literar
Jan 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: american
Compensating For Everything

It’s been about 30 years since Sherman McCoy in Bonfire of the Vanities and Patrick Bateman in American Psycho satirically demonstrated the excesses promoted by wealth in the financial industry of New York City. Both books followed hot on the heels of the real Ivan Boesky’s ‘Greed is Good’ commencement address at UC Berkeley (and, of course Gordon Gekko’s equivalent speech in the film Wall Street). Barry Cohen in Lake Success is a resurrection of the type: insanely arr
Aug 22, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley
3.5 stars

Let me start off by saying the main character, Barry, is a total and complete asshole. If you don’t like books where you dislike the main characters, this is one to steer clear of. Barry, to me, was fingers on the blackboard grating. I mean, what is it with the bloody watches? This is someone you want to feel something for, in a positive way, but I couldn’t. His son is on the severe end of the autism spectrum. All those dreams of a normal family have gone away. He’s incapable of even te
Feb 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
"We've all gone to look for America." Okay, not all of us. But Barry Cohen, the spectacularly wealthy -- and self-made -- hedge fund manager Barry Cohen has. He leaves his beautiful young wife, Seema, the daughter of immigrants, and his young son who is on the spectrum, and disappears on a Greyhound bus to see if he can rediscover the man he once was or (perhaps) the man he wanted someday to be. Barry and Seema are delusional, self-absorbed, and utterly perfect. Each is a mess, and I cared deepl ...more
Ron Charles
Adjust your expectations when you pick up Gary Shteyngart’s “Lake Success.” His new book is not insanely funny nor hilariously absurd.

It’s better than that. A mature blending of the author’s signature wit and melancholy, “Lake Success” feels timely but not fleeting. Its bold ambition to capture the nation and the era is enriched by its shrewd attention to the challenges and sorrows of parenthood.

Barry Cohen, the glad-handing protagonist of “Lake Success,” repels our sympathy even while laying cl
Jun 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
There has been a lot of talk about what constitutes the American novel but for my money, Success Lake is the American novel for these times.

Although the Trump election is not front and center it pervades everything; it’s a time when amorality and greediness are “punished” by a slap on the wrist. Into this poisonous atmosphere leaps Barry Cohen, a hedge fund manager of a This Side of Capital (lifted from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s This Side of Paradise.)

By all outward appearances, Barry lives the Ame
Susan Kennedy
Jul 09, 2018 rated it did not like it
Nope, I can't do it; I can't continue to try to read this book that I hate. I despise the characters and the story isn't captivating at all. I've tried to give it a chance, but when I look at the book and try to read another page it is painful to think about. Definitely not the book for me. Maybe for someone else.

I don't get them at all. Rich and snobby? Completely withdrawn from their child because he is Autistic? They are shallow and nothing is making any kind of sense at all. I'm just not sur
Jan 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
"Like your first ankle monitor bracelet or your fourth divorce, the occasional break with reality was an important part of any hedge-fund titan's biography"
- Gary Shteyngart, "Lake Success"


Like great Indian food, I'm not exactly sure why this novel works for me, but GOD this book was delicious. OK, so I know SORTA why it works. It is brilliantly absurd, and sharp enough to almost immediately, and almost painlessly, draw blood. I kept thinking that this novel was like a mirror presenting this rid
Jul 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In Lake Success, Gary Shteyngart channels what Philip Roth called “the indigenous American berserk” with sympathy, humor, and pathos. Always funny, Shteyngart encapsulates his deep understanding of contemporary America into the lives, loves, and failures of Barry and Seema Cohen ”during the year 2016, at the start of the First Summer of Trump.” Barry and Seema live in rarefied Manhattan in which the mother of a three-year-old boy worries that ”’If he doesn’t do well, forget Hunter, forget Ethica ...more
Apr 01, 2018 rated it liked it
Hmm. It's either a brilliant Candide-esque satire of the clueless wealthy idiots who got us into our current mess (maybe they didn't vote for Trump but they thought about it!, etc) or it's a tone-deaf straight white liberal male asking questions about how we got here. And if you finish a book and wonder which one it is... chances are the answer isn't going to be positive.

Gary Shteyngart is the first of his cohort to bang out a proper Trump-responding novel - although this only tangentially conne
switterbug (Betsey)
Jun 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
SUPER SAD TRUE LOVE STORY, Shteyngart’s 2010 dystopian masterpiece, will remain one of my 50 favorite books of all time. Its haunting prescience convinced me that technology and social media had already dominated and intruded on our lives to chilling, sinister effect. Some of it is already dawning—the way we can destroy lives with Facebook or Twitter is just one example of the way we live now. LAKE SUCCESS isn’t quite as epic, and although there is a nod to the dystopian—just a sprinkle--this is ...more
Sep 10, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: deck
Shteyngart Blew It; Phallacies Come to be Too Much to Swallow

A quite humorous story about a hedge fund manager married to a gorgeous (and pregnant) Indian attorney who now stays at home in their highrise Manhattan condo to raise their autistic son.

Mr. Drexel-Burnham cracks from stress at work, experiences an existential crisis and goes on a bus trip to see his college flame/fiancee' in Texas.

Seemed great. More than halfway through the novel unfortunately, Gary Shteyngart shattered my delicate
Nov 07, 2018 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
I listened to this novel months ago—just about the time it came out. I haven’t been able to adequately put into words how I felt about it. This was the first time I’ve partaken of a Shteyngart novel, and it is more in every way than I was expecting. There is a shadow of Pynchon’s frank absurdity there, and some bungee-cord despair—the kind that bounces back, irrepressible.

Shteyngart’s novel is overstuffed with funny, sad, true, caustic, simplistic, derogatory observations about life in America
Sep 19, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: usa, 2017-read
This is a witty book about how we define success, and how we might strife for what the term commonly entails instead of asking ourselves what makes us happy. Protagonist Barry Cohen is a wealthy hedge fund manager in New York, but when his 3-year-old son is diagnosed with autism, his marriage becomes strained. As he then also is confronted with an SEC investigation, Barry boards a Greyhound to flee his life and search for his college sweetheart.

Shteyngart plays with the classic American trope of
Bonnie G.
A few weeks back I read Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine and was terribly bothered by all the comments indicating Eleanor was on the autism spectrum. There is nothing in the book that would indicate to anyone who knows anything about autism they haven't learned from a very special episode of Law and Order that Eleanor was autistic. People seem to think that anyone withdrawn, anyone with difficulty interacting with others, is autistic. It makes me crazy. So, it is ironic that Lake Success and ...more
(2.75) I’ve rarely felt so conflicted about a book. When I started writing up my Pittsburgh Post-Gazette review (published here this past Sunday), I had little idea of what arguments I was going to make. (You can tell me whether you think I succeeded in making them!) I could almost have written the whole thing as a series of questions. What did I actually think of Lake Success?

I could appreciate that it was a satire on the emptiness of the American Dream – Shteyngart has many cutting lines about
Sep 26, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
2.5 rounded down

Gary Shteynghart’s Lake Success has been much hyped as one of the first works of literary fiction directly delving into the months leading up to the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States. Despite having the occasional glimpse of well crafted satire and a lead character written to endear, Shteynghart has grossly missed the mark, attempting to redeem the individuals largely responsible for the political calamity we find ourselves in and asking us to have empath
Dec 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: adult-fiction
A long time ago, I read Gary Shteyngart’s “Super Sad True Love Story” and LOVED it. He writes thought provoking novels about our culture and society. Shteyngart writes with incredible wit and satire. As a reader, I wanted to pay exceptional attention to each word, situation, and theme because his best work is in the minutia.

In “Lake Success” Shteyngart uses protagonist Barry Cohen as an utterly ridiculous, self absorbed, egotistic, unmonitored, and narcissistic individual. Barry is a hedge-fund
Aug 04, 2018 rated it it was ok
Some unique, puzzling aspects of this book:

Virtually every character is identified, immediately, by their race or ethnicity. The narrator is whatever the opposite of colourblind is: colour comes first, then everything else. I’m unsure of the purpose of this.

Objects, on the other hand, are assigned dollar values. This actually makes sense much of the time as Barry, the protagonist, has a limited amount of cash on him on his trip, but it’s still jarring. It reminded me of the end of each episode o
Aug 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-fiction
I don't quite know what this novel wants to say about ourselves and our times, but I can say that my Kindle told me I was 44% of the way through the book (about 145 pages) before I looked up from this novel and said “Why I am actually concerned about the fate of all these loathsome people?” I think that is a sign that this book can be read for the sheer love of good story-telling, no matter what you think about the book's characters, or its message. I also laughed sometimes, which redeems almost ...more
Dec 07, 2018 rated it liked it
I don’t think Barry puts much, or any thought, in his decision to just, suddenly on the spur of the moment, leave his pregnant wife and autistic child. Bleeding from scratches administered by the nanny and his wife. the only thing he takes with him are a bunch of watches. Not just any watches mind you, very expensive watches. Barry has a sort of fetish for watches. Is this just a fetish or is Barry autistic like his son? Maybe on a lower level of the spectrum. Again, I don’t think he is thinking ...more
Donna Davis
“’All I know is I never had any advantages,’ Barry said. ‘I wasn’t even lucky enough to be born to immigrant parents.’”

Schteyngart’s wry new novel takes a swift kick at the funny bone of the American ruling class. My thanks go to Net Galley and Random House for the review copy.

Barry grew up as the son of the pool guy, the man that serviced the swimming pools of the wealthy. Now between one trade and another—some of it inside, some of it legal—he has become one of the wealthiest men in Manhattan
Nov 28, 2018 rated it it was ok
I kept going, hoping for some sharp satire or insight about our society, but if it’s there I missed it. Frankly, the description of the hedge fund manager protagonist seemed too realistic to be satirical. Perhaps I would have liked the book more if I had never met any hedge fund managers. Just because a book mentions Trump a lot of times doesn’t mean it illuminates our times. After reading a third of the book I didn’t want to spend any more time with these people. I received a free copy of this ...more
Oct 27, 2018 rated it it was ok
While this book is eminently readable (Shteyngart definitely knows how to write to keep the pages turning), as a liberal woman who's lived through the last two years under Trump, it was at times a very uncomfortable read. Barry Cohen is a hedge fund manager with an unimaginable amount of wealth, but when his son Shiva is diagnosed with autism and Barry's company attracts the notice of the feds, Barry flees New York on a Greyhound bus, leaving his son and his wife Seema, a first-generation Americ ...more
Sep 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I know people who say they can't abide reading books that don't have characters that they can empathize or identify with. It's easy to understand that instinctual need to feel good about the characters that populate the book one has committed to reading. But I would argue that sometimes there is much to be learned from reading about unsympathetic characters; characters who, not to put too fine a point on it, are complete and total jerks. Barry Cohen is such a character.

Barry is everyone's stereo
Jul 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Gary on Greyhounds.

Gary Shteyngart writes with an energy that makes most other writers today look like they use their keyboards as pillows for resting their sleepy heads. He chooses the archetypal symbol of capitalism through whom to tell his story, a financial wunderkind who has a complicated relationship with his (now dwindling) wealth. But the real subject here, beneath the topline plot, is the state of the nation. Or, to be more precise, the state of the people living in that nation. The bo
Dec 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shteyngart finds comic gold in this story of a hilariously obtuse, ultra-rich hedge fund manager fleeing his life on a Greyhound bus in the run-up to the November 2016 election.
Oct 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This novel is fresh-out-of-the-oven hot here in 2018. Shteyngart is able to dramatize facets of our fragmented country, give it a thorough shake and see what’s left standing.

Lake Success has my highest recommendation.
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Gary Shteyngart is an American writer born in Leningrad, USSR (he alternately calls it "St. Leningrad" or "St. Leninsburg"). Much of his work is satirical and relies on the invention of elaborately fictitious yet somehow familiar places and times.

His first novel, The Russian Debutante's Handbook (2002), received the Stephen Crane Award for First Fiction and the National Jewish Book Award.

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