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.