David McWilliams: How Irish pubs measure the global economic mood
The growth in demand for Irish bars abroad is our greatest expression of soft power
The facade of McCarthy’s Irish Bar, in Lexington, Kentucky. The Irish pub is a brilliant and easy to understand indicator of globalisation. Photograph: Richard Cummins/Lonely Planet/Getty
In his hilarious and award-winning novel Absurdistan, the American writer Gary Shteyngart tells the story of Misha Vainburg, son of the 1,238th richest man in Russia who flees Russia for the imaginary country of Absurdistan.
Absurdistan is a post-socialist, cowboy-capitalist, ethnically divided oil kingdom somewhere on the shores of the Caspian Sea. The capital, Svani City, is an uproarious metropolis, desperately trying to mimic a western urban entrepot.