Jennifer Reese
June 04, 2004 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Natasha

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
David Bezmozgis
publisher
Farrar, Straus & Giroux
genre
Short Stories, Fiction

We gave it a B

Smart but slight, Bezmozgis’ debut offers a bracing variation on the familiar saga of the Jewish immigrant boy coming of age in a big North American city. In 1980, narrator Mark Berman arrives in Toronto from the Soviet Union, and in seven accomplished, if unsurprising, linked tales describes his childhood misdemeanors, his raucous family life, his complicated, evolving feelings about being a Jew (”Though I never heard dirty Jew, dirty Russian tended to come up. Particularly at Hebrew School”), and his sexual awakening courtesy of 14-year-old Natasha, just off the plane from Moscow. Damaged, icy, and enigmatic, Natasha seduces nearly everyone she encounters. A book of stories from Natasha’s perspective — now that would have been unforgettable.

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