Whether set in Vapnyar's native Russia or in her adopted New York, the six understated stories in this debut collection are beautifully crafted and unswerving in their exploration of human frailty. Friendship shades into resentment and then betrayal in the title story, in which Galina, a Russian librarian in a small Nazi-occupied town takes in her best friend, Raya, a Jewish woman with an eight-year-old daughter. As time passes, Galina nurses an increasing number of petty grudges, until she considers going to the Nazi authorities, practicing her small stock of German: "Es gibt Juden in mein Haus." A final shock reveals to her the terrible transformation she has undergone. On a lighter note, "Love Lessons-Mondays, 9 a.m." is about the struggle of an inexperienced young teacher ("I wasn't a virgin. Or at least I hoped I wasn't") to teach a sex education class; she relies on her Aunt Galya's explicit stories for firsthand advice she passes off as her own. In "Mistress," a boy and his grandfather, recent immigrants from Russia living in Brooklyn, escape the scrutiny of the boy's nagging grandmother by losing themselves in study, the boy in his schoolbooks and the old man in English lessons. On a walk together one day, they encounter one of the grandfather's classmates, and a word the boy has uncomprehendingly heard gains new meaning. Vapnyar only learned English after moving to New York from Russia in 1994, but her deft, subtle way with language is as remarkable as her wry, knowing character portraits.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
In her first book, Vapnyar, a recent Russian emigrant, dramatizes an evocative array of Russian and Russian American experiences in six neatly constructed and emotionally intricate short stories. As fluent in the language of the body as in that of the mind, Vapnyar laces her stories with magnifying-glass-close observations and a pervasive sense of thwarted eroticism. In the title story, a Russian woman gives shelter to a Jewish co-worker as Nazis occupy their town, a courageous and compassionate act soon undermined by tensions related to class and sexual envy. In "Lydia's Grove," a young girl witnesses the uneasy dynamics between her children's book author mother and her lesbian coauthor. In the perfectly balanced "Mistress," a young boy becomes sensitized to the longings of adults, and in "Love Lessons--Monday, 9 A.M.," a naive math teacher dreads, then exults in her assignment to teach sex ed. Writing with rinsed-clean lucidity and keen receptivity to the ridiculous and the sublime, Vapnyar portrays resilient individuals who counter loss and displacement with a covert faith in romance. Donna Seaman
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There are jews in my house shows deep and profound understanding of human nature.
It reads easily, although the subject matter is horrifying, it is hard not to feel and... Read more
Lara Vapnyar has one of the purest voices in modern fiction. In these stories, written with almost Chokhovian acuity and crispness, she traces all the idiosyncrasies and pathos of... Read morePublished 18 months ago by Steven Volynets
Wow!I enjoy reading it!I love these short stories!While reading it, I remembered my childhood and I got great pleasure of the moments of nostalgia)))Published on February 21, 2013 by Dasha
I found each of the stories in this collection to be deeply emotional, but not in the typical "the Germans are after the Jews" kind of way. Read morePublished on September 13, 2012 by Mirrani
Lara Vapnyar is a talented author who conspicuously enjoys reminiscing about the culture she grew up in and portraying it in engaging stories. Read morePublished on January 6, 2009 by Y. Raytseva
Ms.Vapnyar's stories are some of the best I have read. I only hope she will produce many more! Thank you, Lara!Published on April 17, 2006 by A. gershburg
There Are Jews at My House is a noble, unforced, and unpretentious first effort from an ESL author who shows promise of coming into her own. Read morePublished on April 27, 2005 by Yan Timanovsky