Natasha and Other Stories - Reviews


“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 in the right place.’”

— Francine Prose, People

“Scary good…Not a line or note in the book rings false.”


“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.”

— Daniel schifrin, los angeles times book review

“Bezmozgis’s spare, confrontational tales thus take many unexpected turns, but their humanity and poignancy strike the deepest notes … Irresistably original.”

— Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Bezmozgis captures the insecurity and loneliness of recent immigrants while suggesting a child’s guilty psychology with utter believability. These complex, evocative stories herald the arrival of a significant new voice.”

— Publisher’s Weekly

“An authority one usually finds only in more seasoned writers.”

— Meghan O’Rourke, The New York Times Book Review

“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 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.”

— Dan Cryer, 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.”

— Julie Orringer, The Believer

“Deft . . . Humane but unblinkingly unsentimental . . . Fine stories [that are] thick with memorable characters.”

— John Biguenet, Chicago Tribune

“Exquisitely crafted stories. A first collection that reads like the work of a past master.”

— T. Coraghessan Boyle

“While the immigrant experience in the United States has been much explored, Bezmozgis’s less familiar shores are refreshing . . . The voice in Natasha is assured, inviting, and warm.”

— The Economist

“A 30-year-old Canadian writer makes a commanding debut with an openhearted book that combines melancholy and hope. Its seven stories offer a portrait of a family of Latvian Jews just after they emigrate to Toronto in 1979. Told from the perspective of the Bermans’ only child, Mark, this is a piercingly honest account of what that family gains and loses through assimilation. The title story, in which 16- year-old Mark is obliged to supervise his troubled Russian step- cousin, is a knockout.”

— The Baltimore Sun

“[The] dynamic between American Jews and their greenhorn Russian counterparts is portrayed in a creepy and painfully funny way by David Bezmozgis in ‘Roman Berman, Massage Therapist,’ one of the best pieces in Natasha and Other Stories . . . In a wonderfully dry, understated, well-paced manner that evokes the style of the late New York Russian-language fiction writer Sergei Dovlatov, Bezmozgis captures [in this story] what is, believe it or not, a type-scene of the Soviet Jewish immigrant experience. Simple detail and precise timing let such scenes resonate.”

— Val Vinokur, Boston Review

“Here in Europe the talk this year has been all about the new writing coming out of Russia. David Bezmozgis shows that this energy extends to the Russian diaspora as well. In Natasha Bezmozgis renders something of the clear-sighted melancholy associated with Chekhov or Babel into English prose and a North American context. With a maturity and control far beyond his years, Mr. Bezmozgis has produced a captivating and impressive debut. The title story itself is one I will never forget.”

— Jeffrey Eugenides

“Passionately full of life . . . Often ebullient and warmly comic. . . [Bezmozgis has] considerable talents.”

— James Wood, London Review of Books