Natasha by David Bezmozgis
And Other Stories

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Synopsis

Few readers had heard of David Bezmozgis before last May, when Harper's, Zoetrope, and The New Yorker all printed stories from his forthcoming collection. In the space of a few weeks, these magazines introduced America to the Bermans--Bella and Roman and their son, Mark--Russian Jews who have fled the Riga of Brezhnev for Toronto, the city of their dreams.

Told through Mark's eyes, and spanning the last twenty-three years, Natasha brings the Bermans and the Russian-Jewish enclaves of Toronto to life in stories full of big, desperate, utterly believable consequence. In "Tapka" six-year-old Mark's first experiments in English bring ruin and near tragedy to the neighbors upstairs. In "Roman Berman, Massage Therapist," Roman and Bella stake all their hopes for Roman's business on their first, humiliating dinner in a North American home. Later, in the title story, a stark, funny anatomy of first love, we witness Mark's sexual awakening at the hands of his fourteen-year-old cousin, a new immigrant from the New Russia. In "Minyan," Mark and his grandfather watch as the death of a tough old Odessan cabdriver sets off a religious controversy among the poor residents of a Jewish old-folks' home.

The stories in Natasha capture the immigrant experience with a serious wit as compelling as the work of Jhumpa Lahiri, Nathan Englander, or Adam Haslett. At the same time, their evocation of boyhood and youth, and the battle for selfhood in a passionately loving Jewish family, recalls the first published stories of Bernard Malamud, Harold Brodkey, Leonard Michaels, and Philip Roth.

 

About David Bezmozgis

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David Bezmozgis was born in Riga, Latvia, in 1973. His first book, Natasha and Other Stories, won a regional Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and was a 2004 New York Times Notable Book. He has been a Guggenheim Fellow and a Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Fellow at the New York Public Library. In 2010, he was named one of The New Yorker's “20 Under 40.” 
 
Published April 1, 2010 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 160 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Natasha

Kirkus Reviews

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The two final stories widen Mark’s understanding—of the fact of mortality, during the summer when his “researches” into the history of an obscure Jewish heavyweight boxer (“Choynski”) coincide with his beloved babushka’s death;

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The Guardian

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My head ringing "Tapka, Tapka, Tapka," I raced into the hallway.

Nov 27 2004 | Read Full Review of Natasha: And Other Stories

The Guardian

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Natasha and Other Stories by David Bezmozgis 149pp, Cape, £10.99 David Bezmozgis's first collection has crossed the Atlantic laden with wild praise.

Aug 21 2004 | Read Full Review of Natasha: And Other Stories

Entertainment Weekly

Smart but slight, Bezmozgis' debut offers a bracing variation on the familiar saga of the Jewish immigrant boy coming of age in a big North American city.

Jun 04 2004 | Read Full Review of Natasha: And Other Stories

PopMatters

It’s a fundamental question of literary ontology: Which came first, The New Yorker’s publication of a new author’s early story, or the widespread conviction that the author is destined to be the next great writer of his era/age group/ethnic group/nationality?

Jun 29 2004 | Read Full Review of Natasha: And Other Stories

Bookmarks Magazine

In the space of a few weeks, America thus met the Bermans--Bella and Roman and their son, Mark--Russian Jews who have fled the Riga of Brezhnev for Toronto, the city of their dreams.

Told through Mark's eyes, the stories in Natasha possess a serious wit and uniquely Jewish perspective that...

Apr 10 2011 | Read Full Review of Natasha: And Other Stories

https://tabletmag.com

In fact, the best way to read The Free World might be as a subversive companion to Gal Beckerman’s magisterial history of the Soviet Jewish emigration, When They Come for Us, We’ll Be Gone, published last year.

Apr 22 2015 | Read Full Review of Natasha: And Other Stories

Curtis Brown

Later, in the title story, a stark, funny anatomy of first love, we witness Mark's sexual awakening at the hands of his fourteen-year-old cousin, a new immigrant from the New Russia.

| Read Full Review of Natasha: And Other Stories

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