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The Bermans—Bella, Roman and their son, Mark—are Russian Jews who fled the Riga of Brezhnev for Toronto, the city of their dreams. Natasha and Other Stories is the chronicle of their search for a better life as they struggle to fit into a foreign urban landscape. Told through Mark’s eyes, these are stories filled with heart, verve and consequence. In “Tapka,” six-year-old Mark’s cocky game with a neighbour’s beloved dog turns into a tragi-comedy of life lessons learned. In the title story, a teenage Mark faces a stark, comical and ultimately searing introduction to first love at the experienced hands of his cousin, Natasha, an immigrant from the new Russia. And in “Minyan,” Mark and his grandfather watch as the death of an Odessan cab driver sets off a religious controversy among the residents of a Jewish old-people’s home.

Often funny and always wise, this much-celebrated collection captures the immigrant experience with striking wit and deep sympathy.

Globe and Mail Best Book of the Year

New York Times Notable Book of the Year

Winner of the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Book (Canada and Caribbean Region)

Winner of the Canadian Jewish Book Award, Fiction Category

Winner of the Toronto Book Award

Winner of the Jewish Quarterly Wingate Literary Prize for Fiction

Finalist for the Governor General’s Award for Fiction

Finalist for CBC’s Canada Reads

Finalist for the Guardian First Book Award

Finalist for the LA Times Book Prize

Reviews

"Shades of Isaac Babel, Leonard Michaels, and Aleksandar Hemon in a nevertheless irresistibly original first book."― Kirkus Reviews

"Stunning...Taken alone, these stories are charming and pitch-perfect; together, they add up to something like life itself: funny, heartbreaking, terrible, true. Essential for fiction collections."― Library Journal

“Extraordinary...[Recalls] the work of Babel, Roth, Saul Bellow, and so many others. Yet Bezmozgis makes these characters, and the state of marginality itself, uniquely his. This hysterical, merciless, yet open-hearted excavation of a Jewish family in the process of assimilating gives his literary predecessors a run for their money.” ― Los Angeles Times Book Review

"An authority one usually finds only in more seasoned writers."― The New York Times Book Review

"Scary good...Not a line or note in the book rings false."― Esquire

"An effervescent debut...A familiar tale of dislocation and assimilation with enough humor, honesty, and courage to make it new again...If the last page of ‘Tapka' doesn't stop your heart, maybe it was never really beating."―O, The Oprah Magazine

"A latter-day Bernard Malamud...It's astonishing how Bezmozgis can summon up the émigré community with such clarity and economy. David Bezmozgis isn't almost there. He has arrived, fully mature and wise. These stories aren't just superbly crafted investigations of a particular people and place, but profound illuminations of what it means to grow up in an uncertain, ever-changing world."― Newsday

"A stunning first collection, characterized by a painful honesty and clarity of vision....Like Gogol, Bezmozgis is acutely aware of his characters' shortcomings; as Gogol does, Bezmozgis writes with compassion, quietly reminding us of the hidden beauty within human imperfection."― The Believer

"Dazzling, hilarious, and hugely compassionate narratives [written with] freshness and precision...Readers will find themselves laughing out loud, then gasping as Bezmozgis brings these fictions to the searing, startling and perfectly pitched conclusions that remind us that, as Babel said, 'no iron can stab the heart so powerfully as a period put in exactly the right place.'"― People

© 2020 by DAVID BEZMOZGIS

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