The New York Times read the full
"Litmanís elegantly constructed web of stories about Russian-Jewish immigrants living in the Squirrel Hill section of Pittsburgh is... warm, true and original, and packed with incisive, subtle one-liners."
-- Maud Newton
The Hartford Courant read the full
"Through the voices of disaffected teens, disillusioned moms and ailing oldsters, Litman conveys a community in flux, always with dry wit and an empathetic heart."
-- Carole Goldberg
The Seattle Times read the full
"[Litman] shows absolutely no signs of discomfort writing in her second language as she conveys both a fondness for and misgivings about the city of her young adulthood. Even her mentions of ordinary local landmarks ó Giant Eagle grocery stores, the Monroeville Mall ó tap deeply into conflicted feelings about family and displacement."
-- Michael Upchurch
The New York Review of Books read the full
"Spare, realistic, sometimes gently satirical . . . Litmanís book, with its large ensemble cast, offers the most expansive and most detailed view of Russian immigrantsí experiences."
-- Elaine Blare
The Boston Globe read the full
"These are familiar themes in immigrant literature - generational divides, cultural clashes, the broken promise of assimilation. Litman, however, renders her characters' travails with a refreshing lack of sentimentality, coupled at times with wry humor."
-- Don Lee
"...Litman deploys a style that's a perfect mix of sophistication and
bewilderment, as her often highly educated characters cope with various forms of
underemployment, with American buoyancy and with their own sometimes suffocating
-- Publishers Weekly
"Presented as 12 connected short stories, this debut novel offers a beautifully
written, highly amusing, and sometimes sobering look at contemporary Russian
Jewish immigration to America. Throughout, the trials of assimilation prove
baffling to young and old alike-not what they expected to find in the golden
land of opportunity."
-- Molly Abramowitz
"Litman joins Laura Vapnyar and David Bezmozgis in portraying Russian Jews
stymied and inspired by the curious mix of abundance and emptiness that
characterizes American life. Yet Litman's pristine, entrancing interconnected
short stories are distinct, given her light touch, crisp humor, and the
push-and-pull of her characters' tidal emotions. As obdurate Russian transplants
simultaneously cling to and repel each other, Litman's many-faceted stories
revolve around the search for a calling in life, the quest for love, and the
tragicomic predicaments that thwart seekers and lovers. Straightforward in
structure yet intricate psychologically, Litman's smart stories take measure of
the confounding divides between cultures and generations, men and women."
-- Donna Seaman
Time Out New York read the full
"Litman does an admirable job of showing how the freedom to shape one's own
destiny...can be as isolating as it is empowering. [She] is quietly insightful
extremely fair to each of her characters, who range from lonely senior citizens
to stifled office workers and old-world parents mystified by their kids'
quintessentially American aspirations. This smart, well-crafted book both
documents a historical phenomenon-the recent experiences of a subset of
immigrants-but also gets at something larger than America itself: universal
questions about the choices we make and the stubborn elusiveness of happiness."
-- Adelle Waldman
The Jewish Chronicle of Pittsburgh read the full
"Litman has given us the opportunity to see our community in a new way, through
the eyes of those who are struggling to find their place. In this way, we may
develop a deeper appreciation of this unique place we call home, as well as
deepen our sympathy for those who still stand on the outside hoping we will
welcome they in."
-- Erik Rosen
The Moscow Times read the full
"Permanently severed from a country that thwarted a sense of Jewish belonging,
[the characters] are now forced to navigate a new outsider position as
immigrants. In bringing their stories to life, Litman tenderly balances pathos
and humor, and the result is a deeply sympathetic look at a community struggling
to understand its hyphenated identity."
-- Irina Reyn
read the full
"[I]t's Masha's 'delirious noble dream' of finding her way in her new world that
gives the book its structure. In the first story, she's convinced that
'[i]mmigration distorts people'; subsequently, she pushes against those
distortions even as she is molded by them... The small community of Squirrel
Hill comes alive through its immigrants, and eventually it is a place that
Masha's heart fully inhabits."
-- Carolyn Kellogg
The Christian Science Monitor read the full
"[I]t's easy to see why [Litman] won the Rona Jaffe Award for these terrific
stories. She has a clear eye, an ease with English, and a tolerant and
-- Martha White