Sara Ivry

  • culture January 04, 2011

    The Cosmopolitans by Nadia Kalman

    The publication of debut novels by Gary Shteyngart and Lara Vapnyar in the early years of this century heralded the arrival of a literary sub-genre: immigrant fiction specifically about people from the former Soviet Union. For nearly a decade now, a prolific handful of young writers have been describing the challenges of being Russian (or Ukrainian or Georgian or Latvian) newcomers to North America.

  • I Smile Back

    Laney Brooks is a woman in agony, suffering from an undefined malady that makes standard housewife ennui—boredom from carpooling or picking up dry cleaning—look like a picnic. Laney’s despair, ably depicted by Amy Koppelman in her affecting second novel, I Smile Back, is rooted in childhood. Specifically, it is tied to the abandonment of Laney’s family by her father and to her abiding sense of worthlessness. Laney’s adulthood has been marked by success (husband and beloved children, SUV, nice house in northern New Jersey) as well as self-destruction (affairs, drugs, alcohol abuse). And her