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In his seminal novel American Pastoral, Philip Roth coined the term “indigenous American berserk”, by which he meant everything that is the antithesis of “the longed-for American pastoral”, all the permutations of “the fury, the violence, and the desperation” of America in the middle of the 20th century.

In Gary Shteyngart’s fifth novel, Our Country Friends, the Soviet-born American writer pays homage to Roth, noting how six decades and two plague years later, nothing has changed. In a country that is predisposed to conspiracy, chaos and carnage, its citizens can only expect more of the same, the story goes...

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