Summary and book reviews of There Are Jews In My House by Lara Vapnyar

There Are Jews In My House

Stories

by Lara Vapnyar

There Are Jews In My House by Lara Vapnyar X
There Are Jews In My House by Lara Vapnyar
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Dec 2003, 160 pages
    Paperback:
    Dec 2004, 160 pages

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

Adept at both snapshots and long exposures, Lara Vapnyar writes of life's adventures and possibilities, its disappointments and unexpected turns, with delicate humor, brilliant timing, and striking emotional honesty.

Innocence rounds the bend to experience in these beautifully shaped stories of Moscow and Brooklyn, which take up the worldview of the young and overlooked. The stunning Second World War story that opens the book is a masterpiece of ambivalence—about the simultaneous generosity and hypocrisy of Galina, a gentile Russian woman who offers safe harbor to a Jewish friend and her daughter during the German occupation. In "Love Lessons—Mondays, 9 A.M.," a young math teacher is assigned to teach a girls' sex education class, even though she herself is still awaiting her first kiss. And in "Mistress," a boy newly arrived in this country bears witness to the intimate details of his grandparents' new and diverging lives: his grandmother's doctors' appointments, where he is charged with translating her myriad complaints into English, and his grandfather's clandestine courtship of another woman.

Adept at both snapshots and long exposures, Lara Vapnyar, herself a recent immigrant, writes of life's adventures and possibilities, its disappointments and unexpected turns, with delicate humor, brilliant timing, and striking emotional honesty. She is a writer to relish and to watch.

"There Are Jews in My House"

Galina carried in an aluminum pot of boiled potatoes, holding it by the handles with a kitchen towel. She put it on a wooden holder in the middle of a round table covered with a beige oilcloth. She opened the lid and, turning her face away from the steam, ladled coarse, unpeeled potatoes onto each of the four plates. The plates were beautiful: delicate, white, with a golden rim and little forget-me-nots in the center.

For the past six weeks, they'd been eating in the living room, where the heavy dark brown curtains covered the only window. For the past two weeks, they'd been eating in silence. From time to time, somebody coughed or sneezed, the girls might whisper something to each other, or even giggle, after which they glanced guiltily at their mothers, but mostly they heard only themselves blowing on their food and the clatter of heavy silver forks. Galina didn't mind the silence. It was better than having to talk, to keep up a forced conversation...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Simple stories, told well combine to form a stunning debut by Lara Vapnyar. Her stories become even more impressive when one learns that she did not start to learn English until she emigrated from Russia to New York in 1994 - a mere decade ago.  

Media Reviews

The New York Times Book Review - Boris Fishman
Vapnyar ...draws an indelible portrait of the land she left behind...Here is the Soviet Union as only its citizens knew it -- a junkyard of truncated aspirations, moral degradation, despair and inexplicable resilience, a place at once labyrinthine and explicit, dysfunctional and yet determined to survive.

Booklist - Donna Seaman
Writing with rinsed-clean lucidity and keen receptivity to the ridiculous and the sublime, Vapnyar portrays resilient individuals who counter loss and displacement with a covert faith in romance.

Publishers Weekly
Whether set in Vapnyar's native Russia or in her adopted New York, the six understated stories in this debut collection are beautifully crafted and unswerving in their exploration of human frailty.

Author Blurb André Aciman
From post-glasnost Russia, where drab, cold, cinder-block homes seldom evoke anything beyond the color gray, by way of an immigrant's New York, where no one has the heart to throw away beat-up samovars and abandoned meat grinders, has sprung a fresh, new, sprightly voice—a voice that is at once that of an adult who remembers childhood far too keenly and that of a child who watches the antic goings-on of adult sexuality with the baffled silence of the wise.

Author Blurb Louis Menand
Lara Vapnyar is Jane Austen with a Russian soul. The blend of coolness and pathos in these perfect stories is uncanny.

Author Blurb Gary Shteyngart
A remarkable collection . . . Eerie in its simplicity, stunning in its scope. Through her tender, insightful writing, Vapnyar's characters, battered by history and each other, emerge from the long Soviet night oddly radiant and whole.

Reader Reviews

Olga Roninson

A new voice
I have been waitng for a writer to come and give voice to the mass emigration of Jews from the former Soviet Union for more than 20 years- and here it is! Like Lara, I grew up in Moscow, in a Jewish fmaily, which belonged to the intelligentsia. ...   Read More

alla gershburg

Exceptional!
Dear Lara, my only regret about the book is that it is too short! Please write more.

panch goldstein

Poorly written balderdash

Write your own review!

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Readalikes Full readalike results are for members only

More books by Lara Vapnyar

If you liked There Are Jews In My House, try these:

  • Stalin's Children jacket

    Stalin's Children

    by Owen Matthews

    Published 2009

    About this book

    More books by this author

    An indelible portrait of Russia over seven decades and an unforgettable memoir about how we struggle to define ourselves in opposition to our ancestry only to find ourselves aligning with it.

  • Farthing jacket

    Farthing

    by Jo Walton

    Published 2007

    About this book

    More books by this author

    In an alternate history, a radical group overthrew Churchill and made peace with Hitler. Now, eight years later at a country retreat, one of the group is murdered; and suspicion falls on the Jewish husband of one of their adult children.

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member
Search Readalikes again
How we choose readalikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Black Leopard, Red Wolf
    Black Leopard, Red Wolf
    by Marlon James
    If you are looking for an indulgent, escapist fantasy, Black Leopard, Red Wolf may not be for you. ...
  • Book Jacket: That Time I Loved You
    That Time I Loved You
    by Carianne Leung
    Carrianne Leung was a Toronto Book Award finalist for That Time I Loved You as well as for her debut...
  • Book Jacket: The Pianist from Syria
    The Pianist from Syria
    by Aeham Ahmad
    Aeham Ahmad became famous as the face of Syrian suffering when a photo of him playing piano in the ...
  • Book Jacket: The Smiling Man
    The Smiling Man
    by Joseph Knox
    Joseph Knox's latest turns on a simple premise: an unidentified and unidentifiable murdered man is ...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    American Princess
    by Stephanie Marie Thornton

    Rated 4.9 stars by BookBrowse members - one of the highest scores of all time!
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    The Last Year of the War
    by Susan Meissner

    A little-known story of WWII with great resonance for our times.
    Reader Reviews

Book Club
Book Jacket
Girls Burn Brighter
by Shobha Rao

An extraordinary and heart-rending tale of two girls with all the odds against them.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Book Club Giveaway!
Win The Summer Country

Win up to 12 copies to share with friends or your book club!

A sweeping epic of lost love, lies, jealousy, and rebellion set in colonial Barbados.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

D T T! Full S A!

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.