Lake Success (Shteyngart) - Discussion Questions

Discussion Questions
We'll add publisher questions if and when they're available; in the meantime, use our LitLovers talking points to help start a discussion for LAKE SUCCESS … then take off on your own:

1. In what way does Gary Shteyngart's Lake Success attempt to capture an era—our era—with its angst, class divisions, corruption, giddy optimism and bleak pessimism?

2. What do you think of Barry Cohen? In what way is he representative of our era? Barry is rife with contradictions: he is both greedy and generous, gregarious and introverted, confident and needy, a creature of Wall Street and a drifter. How do you seem him—is he on one side of these qualities or the other? Or can a person be both? Do you have sympathy for Barry? At first? Later in the novel? Or never?

3. Follow-up to Question 2: Speaking of contradictions, how does Barry's belief in his own generous nature rub up against his political beliefs?

4. Describe Seema. Do you find her a sympathetic character? What does she mean about feeling "guilty in front of all the people who would never know the fruits of the global order"?

5. Seema accuses Barry of lacking a soul. Is she right?

6. How does their child's autism diagnosis affect Barry and Seema? How do they cope, or not cope? What insights do we gain into the struggle of raising a beloved child with special needs?

7. Is Barry running from something … or running toward something? Does he know which?

8. What makes Barry, well… Barry? What do we come to learn about his past that has shaped his adult self?

9. Is there redemption for Barry? For Seema? Do you root for either one or both?
(Questions by LitLovers. Please feel free to use them, online and off, with attribution. Thanks.)

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