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Natasha and Other Stories

3.79  ·  Rating Details ·  1,392 Ratings  ·  126 Reviews
A dazzling debut, and a publishing phenomenon: the tender, savagely funny collection from a young immigrant who has taken the critics by storm.

Few readers had heard of David Bezmozgis before May 2003, when Harper's, Zoetrope, and The New Yorker all printed stories from his forthcoming collection. In the space of a few weeks, America thus met the Bermans--Bella and Roman an
Paperback, 160 pages
Published May 1st 2005 by Picador (first published December 2003)
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Mar 05, 2009 Buck rated it it was ok
I’m too close to David Bezmozgis, in age and geography, to assess his work objectively. We’re from the same town; we hung out in the same malls and got high in the same suburban basements (more or less). We share a particular kind of provincialism and aspire to a particular kind of cosmopolitanism. In his short stories, I glimpse a distorted reflection of myself, and I don’t always like what I see. Who does? So maybe you should chalk up my animus to self-loathing, though again it’s a very partic ...more
A collection of interlinked stories about the immigrant experience of Latvian Jews who come to Toronto in the 80s told from the point of view of the son who is six in the first story and an adult in his twenties in the last. The stories are told with wit and compassion, and are nicely unsentimental. Although they seem to be about the specific Russian Jewish Canadian immigrant experience, they are also universal in many ways in showing general immigrant experience, feelings about the past life in ...more
Jan 29, 2013 cemg rated it it was amazing

Truly exceptional realist short stories. It's so easy to write bad short stories, even really good short stories that at times ring a bit false, but I felt almost no missteps while reading Natasha. Bezmozgis sympathizes with his characters but doesn't pity them, choosing instead to appreciate the irony of their lives as if he were their friend rather than their author.

Nov 19, 2014 Mehdi rated it really liked it
If you don't want to read the whole book, make sure you read the titular story, Natasha.
Brian Levinson
Jun 17, 2007 Brian Levinson rated it really liked it
Terrific compilation of short stories. Bezmozgis' Lithuanian-Jewish-Canadian immigrant childhood and adolescence rings brilliantly, hilariously true.

I got the opportunity to meet the author a few years ago; real nice guy. Kind of quiet, though. Met his agent, too -- dude had a mohawk, which was kind of weird. I thought that maybe he lost a bet. The agent, not Bezmozgis, whose hair was uninteresting.
This was a good collection of short stories, the author does a good job at highlighting the trials and hardships faced as an immigrant and growing up as a young child. Fairly good writing, but I still felt like it was missing something to make it go from average to fantastic.

I don't think I have a favourite short story, which might be way I didn't love the book. Although, The Second Strongest Man, Tapka and Natasha were all well done and stand out as memorable reads for me. The stories are all
Jan 07, 2008 Kerri rated it liked it
Shelves: short-stories
I feel like I shouldn't have to write a review about the books that I'm required to read for work. So I won't. But basically its a bunch of short stories that are told by the character Mark, and his family's assimilation from Latvia (however u spell it) to Toronto. There were actually some pretty good stories.
Feb 22, 2008 Ian rated it really liked it
It has been a while since reading a collection of short stories - and this was a wonderful reintroduction. I was left feeling upset in the first story and almost stopped me from continuing. My decision to persist (clearly I am closer to my dumb Bichon then I think) was rewarded with some beautiful stories.
Daniel Kukwa
Oct 18, 2014 Daniel Kukwa rated it really liked it
Shelves: canadian-lit
A delightful look at the Eastern Euro/immigrants experience to Canada in the 1980s...which takes a surprisingly darker turn in the final two stories of this collection. At first, this turn feels like whiplash...but the after-taste is quite powerful, and says much about who we are versus who we might have been. This is best summed up as "much more than the sum of its parts".
Apr 26, 2007 Angela rated it really liked it
Three stars for the collection overall, but four or even five for a few of the stories within it. I'm definitely going to keep an eye out for his work in the future. (There's a story of his online that's not in the collection here: []. Recommended.)
Jan 01, 2009 DonaAna rated it it was amazing
It doesn't get any better than this. Everything about this book is great - subject matter, plotlines, execution, language. It's only a very slim volume, but each story is a gem, to be slowly savored. i completely agree with this London Review of Books critic:
Aug 29, 2016 Dacko rated it liked it
Dobre su priče, ali nekako prezasićene, autor sve lepo i dočara i prokomentariše, ali nema nejasnih, začudnih, dvosmislenih mesta ni prostora za dijalog s pričom, već je saznajemo iz perspektive pripovedača i to je to.
Jul 18, 2015 Sarah rated it it was amazing
Definitely a thin volume but the stories are so rich - thick with a specific atmosphere. I read a novel by Bezmozgis and liked it but these - I loved.
Jan 15, 2017 Barbara rated it really liked it
These stories are really well written but pretty dark. Bezmozgis lightened up a little in the novel which gives the prequel to these stories. I like the less dark Bezmozgis better.
David Abrams
Oct 30, 2011 David Abrams rated it it was amazing
Roman Berman, his wife and their son emigrate from Latvia to Toronto in 1980 with "no English, no money, no job and only a murky conception of what the future held." In the course of the seven stories that comprise David Bezmozgis' debut collection, Natasha, we'll witness the Bermans slowly, painfully assimilate into North American culture, mainly through the eyes of the son, Mark.

He's six years old in the first story, "Tapka," in which he and a cousin are put in charge of dog-sitting a Russian
Jan 10, 2013 Edward rated it really liked it
This is a collection of seven stories, loosely linked, about Russian Jewish immigrants to Toronto in the late 20th century. As might be expected, it's not easy to make a life in eastern Canada, coming from Russia. There is a new language to be learned, jobs are hard to come by, and if they are found, they're usually low paying and menial, and of course there are tensions within the immigrant community itself, often between generations.
The title story is one of initiation into adulthood of a 1
Jan 02, 2017 Leyla rated it really liked it
Shelves: rusha, jewish-israeli
Some noir, sometimes hilarious, Jewish realism right here. Four stars for the Natacha story, three for the rest.
John Beck
Apr 07, 2008 John Beck rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed, fiction

Natasha, and Other Stories by David Bezmozgis has traveled with me for a long a time. Published in 2004, I'm pretty sure I grabbed the small hardcover off the shelf the first time I saw it. I read it and forgot I'd read it, even listing it as one of the books I own but haven't read.

How could I forget?

Natasha has nearly everything I love: it is a novel in short story form, each story connected to the other but inde
Ilona Szekely
Dec 19, 2016 Ilona Szekely rated it it was amazing
What a beautiful book of short stories woven together with a simple thread of Jewish/Russian immigration. I identified with and loved all of the characters. It left me wanting more and missing my grandparents along with so many of that amazing generation.
Aug 15, 2011 Siv30 rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories
במשך שנים היוו ארה"ב וקנדה יעד לגיטימי להגירת יהודים מברית המועצות. חלק מהיהודים שברחו מתנאי החיים הלא נוחים, הגיעו לישראל ומיד עלו על המטוס הבא לקנדה.

המהגרים/ עולים (תלוי בזווית הראיה) יצרו בדמיונם את החיים העתידיים שלהם: הם דמיינו כיצד במדינה החדשה הם הופכים לאזרחים מהשורה, ממשים את החופש מהמשטר ומעינו של האח הגדול, מרוויחים כסף וחיים בנוחות.

אבל המציאות טפחה על פניהם. קשיי הקליטה מתחילים בדברים אלמנטריים כמו השפה. העדר יכולת לתקשר עם הסביבה והמאמץ המתמיד והמתסכל ללמוד ולהדביק את הפער. אני משע
Patrick McCoy
Sep 28, 2011 Patrick McCoy rated it it was amazing
I originally read the short story "Natasha" in Harper's a couple a years back and was really impressed by David Bezmozgis' story of coming of age in the suburbs of Toronto. A bittersweet story of innocence and illusions lost as well as difficult harsh life lessons learned. I was looking forward to his short story collection Natasha and Other Stories, which is a series of stories about the Russian Jewish immigrant experience in the 80s. It turns out that I had read another of his stories in Harpe ...more
Sep 11, 2013 TinHouseBooks rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-we-love
Jeremy Scheuer(Tin House Magazine Intern): Last night I revisited David Bezmosgis’s Natasha: And Other Stories, which I first came across as a senior in college. I was writing a thesis and looking for a competent, edited-to-perfection, model short story. The title story Natasha blew my mind. Natasha, an emotionally numb, inscrutable fourteen year-old recently moves to Toronto from Russia with her mother. The teenage narrator, Mark Berman, is living in his parents’ basement getting high and watch ...more
Being Russian-Jewish is a weird thing. You're not "half Russian and half Jewish", as some people might think, but actually 100% both and neither at the same time. To Jews living in Israel or North America, you're a weird Russian; but to the Russians, you will always be a dirty Jew.

It's only been about 25 years since the Soviet Union collapsed. Many families, my own included, could not emigrate until then; a lucky few, like Bezmozgis', managed to push through the cracks during 70's. For that reas
Aug 30, 2010 Becky rated it really liked it
I heard about this author on The New Yorker's list of 20 noteworthy authors under 40. Since I've enjoyed several other authors on the list I decided to give this book a try and I was not disappointed. It is a series of short stories, all involving the same family of Russian Jewish refugees living in Canada. This story of resettlement and cultural adjustment, like several others I've read, was fascinating to read and gave me new insight and understanding into my work with refugees, especially tho ...more
Aug 22, 2013 Harrison rated it liked it
immigrant fiction seems to be a pretty dominant category in contemporary american fiction and natasha is another addition. the prose is typical of the genre, fairly literal, not very idiomatic, not very decorated, and with some imports.

the stories that i liked best were an animal to the memory, natasha, and minyan. aside from natasha these stories have the immigrants' condition at the center, but something kind of universal shows through, like the appropriation of victimization (hitler and stali
May 15, 2009 Von rated it it was amazing
I read about this book in an interview with one of my new favorite authors, Daniel Alarcon. It was among the three books that he was currently reading.

This book is completely on the top of my list of favorite books of short stories. I couldn't put it down. I would start reading it as soon as I got on the train, and would almost miss my stop every morning. The writing is awesome, the central character felt so incredibly familiar to me, and I feel like I got a window into a community of people (Ea
Aug 04, 2011 Cflack rated it it was amazing
I absolutely loved these short stories. They are interconnected stories about a group of Jewish Latvian immigrants to Canada in the 1980s, told from the point of view of the son at varying ages. The stories are funny, touching and lovely. The characters are beautifully drawn and feel very true to themselves. They are about adaptation and survival - how when humans are thrown into trying situations they learn adjust and adapt. It is about forming connections to others and learning to see their pe ...more
Jun 24, 2007 yana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a charming book of semi-autobiographical short stories by a new young author, a Russian from Latvia now living in Toronto. I absolutely adored the first story, "Tapka," which i will remember for a long time, as well as the story about the Strongman. However, the stories did become slightly less enchanting as the book went on. I suppose this is because the stories follow episodes from the protagonist's life, in chronological order, from childhood through adulthood, and I guess its much mo ...more
Nov 23, 2014 Kieran rated it liked it
An amazing insight into a boys experience of immigrating to Canada from Russia. Beautifully crafted stories, I think all around the same person, though perhaps that's the trick of first person narration. The title story is a shocking twist from the preceding ones, shocking you into the complications of teenagehood from the innocence of childhood, then the individual in further stories seems merely a vehicle to interpret the stories of others. If this were a sonnet, "Natasha" would be the Volta a ...more
Jan 10, 2008 Donna rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: canlit
Jonathan Cape: OK, so you’ve got this real good story and we really really like it. But you need more than that for a book. What else do you have?

DB: Well, I have another one here that’s pretty good.

JC: OK, so that’s two. But we need more.

DB: Hmmm…..well, here’s a bunch that aren’t so great, but they’re okay, I guess. Can we use them to fill up the pages?

Hmph. The title selection is great. There’s another (perhaps two) that are alright. The rest wasn’t worth it, but at least they were short. I r
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Born in Riga, Latvia, Bezmozgis moved to Canada when he was six. He attended McGill University and then received his MFA from USC's School of Cinema-Television. His stories have appeared in The New Yorker, Harper's, and Zoetrope. In 2010 he was chosen by The New Yorker as one of the best 20 writers under 40.
More about David Bezmozgis...

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