Natasha and Other Stories
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Natasha and Other Stories

3.8 of 5 stars 3.80  ·  rating details  ·  898 ratings  ·  92 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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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
Brian Levinson
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.
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
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.)
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.
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:
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.
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
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...more
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...more
Patrick McCoy
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
John Beck

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...more
David Abrams
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...more
Alia S
Impeccable. Read this: you’ll laugh, you’ll cry; it’ll take a couple hours tops; and I suspect it’s technically flawless.

Aside: Between this guy and Chabon and Foer I’ve now accidentally read enough contemporary fiction on The Jewish Experience (TM) to exceed my exposure to my own cultural narrative(s) several times over. It’s great writing, and broadening and all … but I guess sometimes I feel a little left out.
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...more
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...more
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
This was a collection of short stories loosely related (some looser than others) about Russian Jewish immigrants living in Toronto and how they adjust to Canadian life... eh.

Bezmozgis, as is the case with many 'new' writers, is compared to just about every living and dead writer that has made their mark in the literary world... well, forget about the comparisons. Bezmozgis speaks his own voice... oy, eh.

Short story collections are hard for me to rate. Some of these stories deserve 5 stars some 3...more
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...more
In one of Bezmogis's stories in this linked collection, Mark, a recent Russian immigrant and the grandson of a family of Holocaust survivors analyzes his motivation for attending Saturday morning synagogue services with his grandfather. He writes, "Most of the old Jews came because they were drawn by the nostalgia for the ancient cadences, I came because I was drawn by the nostalgia for the old Jews. In each case, the motivation was not tradition but history." There are a few great stories in th...more
I read this book for the book club. I probably would not have read it otherwise.

It is short, a volume of 7 short stories that are all about a Russian immigrant family in Canada in the 1980s. All the stories are told from the point of view of the young son, who is about six in the first story and an adult in the last one.

Some of the stories are rather quirky. A few have some funny lines ("Old people are no better than children. Worse, because they should know better.") The reader gets a sense of...more
Part of the compulsory reading that I did for Community Lit project.
It was nice but I have serious issues with the way diaspora literature deals with nostalgia hence the two stars, otherwise I would have given it a 3.
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
Melissa Kayanda
A collection of short stories about a family trying to stay the same all the while adjusting to a new environment. I liked it. Underneath the humour, I could sense the earnest intensity and deep rooted issues.
A really solid collection of linked stories. Well-crafted and straight forward. I'll remember them for the whole rather than the parts. Few stories took great risks, but that's not the selling point on these; they are instead very accessible stories with emotional weight and engaging characters.

An opening like this demands you to read on.

Goldfinch was flapping clotheslines, a tenement delirious with striving. 6030 Bathurst: insomniac scheming Odessa. Cedarcroft: reeking borscht in the hallways....more
Purple Osprey
I liked it. The style is a bit dry and detached, and I liked that too. It felt very honest, I found myself really invested into characters and didn't want the book to end.
This was a very good book - but, in my opinion, not as good as The Free World. It wasn't as funny, which made it feel heavier and ultimately more depressing. I loved the interweaving of the stories, and thought they worked very well together. I found the Natasha story profoundly disturbing (she was only 14 years old), maybe more so than the author intended. Some of the stories were stronger than others: although they may not have been the strongest writing in the collection, I particularly liked...more
Josh Stewart
to be honest i'm a little foggy on this book since it has been awhile. the basic premise is the stories are from the perspective of a family who has immigrated from russia to canada and they are mostly funny. a couple details i do recall is i found it via a clip in the fiction section of the new yorker, i thot this was cool and it made me like the book a little extra. I also remember there is a story about a dog named Klonchik that totally cracked me up. I love that name "klonchik" and may name...more
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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...
The Free World The Betrayers My Mistress's Sparrow is Dead: Great Love Stories from Chekhov to Munro The Journey Prize Stories 19: The Best of Canada's New Writers Život na sjeveru - Antologija kanadske kratke priče

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