David Bezmozgis, the writer who brought us the “pointed, emotionally resonant tales” (The Globe and Mail) of Natasha and Other Stories, brings us a new collection, his first in more than a decade.
In the title story, a father and his young daughter stumble into a bizarre version of his immigrant childhood. A mysterious tech conference brings a writer to Montreal where he discovers new designs on the past in “How it Used to Be.” A grandfather’s Yiddish letters expose a love affair and a wartime secret in “Little Rooster.” In “Roman’s Song,” Roman’s desire to help a new immigrant brings him into contact with a sordid underworld. At his father’s request, Victor returns to Riga, the city of his birth, and has his loyalties tested by the man he might have been in “A New Gravestone for an Old Grave.” And, in the noir-inspired “The Russian Riviera,” Kostya leaves Russia to pursue a boxing career only to find himself working as a doorman in a garish nightclub in the Toronto suburbs.
In these deeply-felt, slyly humorous stories, Bezmozgis pleads no special causes but presents immigrant characters with all their contradictions and complexities, their earnest and divided hearts.
Praise for The Betrayers:
“Scary good. . . . Not a line or note in the book rings false.”
“Bezmozgis is a remarkably polished and proficient writer. . . .unquestionably one of the star writers of his generation. He not only grapples with an important modern story, he does so with undeniable authenticity and intelligence.”
“A delicious drama of ambivalence and excitement. . . . The vigour of the book’s characters is achieved in the remarkable way Bezmozgis puts words together.”
“Powerful, thought provoking [and] deftly plotted.”
Praise for The Free World:
“What sets [Bezmozgis] apart . . . is his quiet command of unadorned language, his wry humour and his keen understanding of the human heart.”
“The Betrayers is an endlessly fascinating exchange of philosophical views and a character study of great depth and nuance, made all the more effective because of its compact structure and swift pace of narrative.”
“David Bezmozgis has a dazzling talent, is the possessor of that rarest of skills—the ability to create fiction which is intensely serious but which also vividly encompasses the absurdity of life.”
“Bezmozgis displays an evenhanded verisimilitude in dealing with a wide variety of cold war attitudes. . . An assured, complex social novel whose relevance will be obvious to any reader genuinely curious about recent history, the limits of love, and the unexpected burdens that attend the arrival of freedom.”
“Bezmozgis’s pointed, emotionally resonant tales are so elegant they seem destined, like [Isaac] Babel’s for anthologies of classic fiction.”
“[Bezmozgis] shows that his skills at creating perfect (and perfectly unsettling) worlds-within-worlds remain unparalleled. . . . Intelligent, funny, unfailingly sympathetic, Bezmozgis portrays lives constantly teetering between past and present, between worlds remembered and those that are all too real.”
“Bezmozgis makes good on the promise of his celebrated first book, Natasha and Other Stories (2004), in his spectacular first novel. Sharply funny and fast-paced, yet splendidly saturated with intriguing psychological nuance and caustic social commentary.”
Praise for Natasha and Other Stories:
“A generous, witty account of boyhood . . . rich [with] reverberating pathos [and] a sensualist’s delight in language. . . . Impressive.”
“Bezmozgis proves why he was recently proclaimed one of The New Yorker’s 20 Under 40; this is mellifluous, utterly captivating writing, and you’ll live with the Krasnansky family as if it were your own.”
“David Bezmozgis’s latest book of short stories focuses heavily on moral complexity and immigrant experiences, highlighting the author’s uncanny ability to write sensitive, sympathetic prose.”
“Remarkable short stories. David Bezmogis [has] a gift for swift, sharp storytelling.”