The Betrayers by David Bezmozgis
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The one group of American Jews who still have a vital connection with the immigrant experience are those who came here from the Soviet Union in the 1970s and 1980s—and it is no coincidence that these are some of the most popular Jewish writers today. Now in their thirties and forties, writers like Gary Shteyngart and Lara Vapnyar are just the right age to conjure up the dislocations of moving from Brezhnev’s USSR to Reagan’s America. So is David Bezmozgis, who, though his family emigrated to Canada rather than the United States, has the same basic immigrant story to tell. And he told it brilliantly in his first book, Natasha, a story collection that brought an acerbic, unsentimental vision, reminiscent of the early Philip Roth, to autobiographical tales of growing up as a Soviet immigrant in Toronto.
In his subsequent work, however, Bezmozgis has separated himself from other Soviet-American Jewish writers—indeed, from the whole genre of immigrant fiction—in a deliberate and fascinating way.