Hester's Reviews > There Are Jews in My House

There Are Jews in My House by Lara Vapnyar
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's review
Nov 10, 2010

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bookshelves: short-stories, judaism-and-jewish-issues
Read in November, 2010

I wish I could assign stars for each story rather than for the whole collection. The eponymous short story is a masterpiece, studying the ugly side of the saintly. Galina hides her Jewish best friend, Raya, when the Germans invade. Raya does not have Galina's beauty or know how, but she is wealthy and knows how to enjoy life in ways Galina cannot begin to comprehend. As the escalating tension erodes at Raya's mental well-being, their friendship suffers and Galina finds herself feeling ugly emotions and confronting dark thoughts. The story features two wonderful people who find themselves at odds.

Lydia's Grove and Mistresses are charming stories, but Ovranski's Trains, a Question for Vera, and Love Lessons left me cold. Vapnyar seems to enjoying writing about adults' emotional problems from children's perspectives, a technique that worked in the first two stories, but not in Ovranski's Trains.

With the exception of the end of a Question for Vera, Vapnyar is an excellent stylist.
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