Natasha: Book summary and reviews of Natasha by David Bezmozgis

Natasha

And Other Stories

by David Bezmozgis

Natasha by David Bezmozgis X
Natasha by David Bezmozgis
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  • Published in USA  Jun 2004
    147 pages
    Genre: Short Stories/Essays

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Book Summary

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.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"These complex, evocative stories herald the arrival of a significant new voice." - Publishers Weekly

"Flinty and intriguing, Bezmozgis' well-made stories play well in conjunction with Aleksandar Hemon's The Question of Bruno." - Booklist

"Starred Review. Bezmozgis's spare, confrontational tales thus take many unexpected turns, but their humanity and poignancy strike the deepest notes ... Irresistibly original." - Kirkus Reviews

"This small treasure trove of characters will stay in readers' minds for a long time." - School Library Journal (recommended for adults & high school)

"There is a fine, quiet skepticism in this voice, which leaves us to fill in the blanks (though usually we don't have to strain too hard). Because the stories in Natasha are chronological, and the last two, where Berman is grown up, are by far the least effective, we can conclude that Bezmozgisian narrative irony is a great deal less interesting in the mind of an adult. The book is therefore at its best when the narrator cannot be expected to deal with the information provided, as in "An Animal to the Memory," again on a Jewish theme." - The Washington Post

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Author Information

David Bezmozgis Author Biography

Photo: David Bezmozgis

David Bezmozgis is an award-winning writer and filmmaker. David's stories have appeared in numerous publications including The New Yorker, Harpers, Zoetrope All-Story, and The Walrus.

His first book, Natasha and Other Stories, was published in 2004 in the US and Canada and was subsequently translated into more than a dozen languages. Natasha was a New York Times Notable Book, one of the New York Public Library's 25 Books to Remember for 2004, and an Amazon.com Top 10 Book for 2004. Natasha was nominated for the Guardian First Book Award (UK), the LA Times First Book Award (US), and the Governor General's Award (Canada). It won the Toronto Book Award and the Commonwealth Writer's Prize for First Book.

In 2006, David was a screenwriting fellow at the Sundance Labs where he developed his ...

... Full Biography
Link to David Bezmozgis's Website

Name Pronunciation
David Bezmozgis: Bez-MOZE-ghis

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