In the title story, a father and his young daughter stumble into a bizarre version of his immigrant childhood. A mysterious tech conference brings a writer to Montreal, where he discovers new designs on the past in “How It Used to Be.” A grandfather’s Yiddish letters expose a love affair and a wartime secret in “Little Rooster.” In “Childhood,” Mark’s concern about his son’s phobias evokes a shameful incident from his own adolescence. In “Roman’s Song,” Roman’s desire to help a new immigrant brings him into contact with a sordid underworld. At his father’s request, Victor returns to Riga, the city of his birth, where his loyalties are tested by the man he might have been in “A New Gravestone for an Old Grave.” And, in the noir-inspired “The Russian Riviera,” Kostya leaves Russia to pursue a boxing career only to find himself working as a doorman in a garish nightclub in the Toronto suburbs.
In these deeply felt, slyly humorous stories, Bezmozgis pleads no special causes but presents immigrant characters with all their contradictions and complexities, their earnest and divided hearts.
Shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize
National Jewish Book Award Finalist 2019
Globe & Mail Best Books of 2019
Toronto Star Top Ten Books of 2019
CBC Books Best Books of 2019
“[Bezmozgis] shows that his skills at creating perfect (and perfectly unsettling) worlds-within-worlds remain unparalleled. . . . Intelligent, funny, unfailingly sympathetic, Bezmozgis portrays lives constantly teetering between past and present, between worlds remembered and those that are all too real.” - Toronto Star
“David Bezmozgis’s latest book of short stories focuses heavily on moral complexity and immigrant experiences, highlighting the author’s uncanny ability to write sensitive, sympathetic prose.” - The Globe and Mail
“David Bezmozgis deepens his exploration of the fates and furies that beset Jewish immigrants as they struggle with the unwieldy claims of the past. Replete with the wry humour and finely hewn prose that characterized the author’s debut, Natasha and Other Stories, this new collection resonates with power and poignancy.” - Quill & Quire