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David Bezmozgis

Partial list of publications: The Free World, Journey Prize Stories (editor), and Natasha and Other Stories
Genres: Fiction, nonfiction, and narrative and documentary films
Awards: Recipient of many awards and prizes, including the Cullman Center Fellow at the New York Public Library (2010-11) and the Sundance Institute Screenwriting Fellow (2006)
Languages: English, French (basic), Russian and Hebrew (reading and basic speech)
Current residence: Toronto, Canada


MFA in Production, University of Southern California, School of Cinematic Arts, Los Angeles, CA
BA with Honours in English Literature, McGill University, Montreal, PQ,(Dean’s Honour List)



David Bezmozgis is an award-winning writer and filmmaker who was born in Riga, Latvia, and immigrated to Toronto in 1980. The New Yorker recently listed him as one of the most promising fiction writers under the age of 40. David’s first novel, The Free World, was published in 2011 in multiple countries, and his first collection, Natasha and Other Stories, has been translated into 15 languages. David’s short stories have appeared in numerous publications including The New Yorker, HarpersZoetrope All-Story, and The Walrus. His work has been broadcast on NPR, the BBC, and the CBC, and his stories have been anthologized in The Best American Short Stories2005 & 2006. Bezmozgis has also received international acclaim for his first feature film, Victoria Day. David is currently a fellow at the Harvard/Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. He has taught at Columbia University in New York and at Humber College and York University in Toronto.

Teaching Experience

  • Fall 2010, Columbia University, New York, Adjunct Faculty, School of the Arts: Graduate Creative Writing Workshop
  • 2009-10, Humber College, Toronto, Canada, Adjunct Faculty, Department of English: Three sections of a course that combines intensive grammar instruction with an introduction to the fundamentals of fiction writing.
  • Winter 2008, York University, Toronto, Canada, Adjunct Faculty, Department of English: An upper-level undergraduate course entitled “Reading the News” about the rhetorical methods of the news media. Issues in bias, spinning, framing, ideology and politics were of particular focus.
  • Summer 2006, Zoetrope All-Story Writing Workshop, Belize, Writing Instructor: An intensive course for writers of diverse background, age, and competence. Employed a method of close reading student work and that of published fiction and non-fiction: Isaac Babel, Leonard Michaels, Mary Gaitskill, Denis Johnson, Mavis Gallant, Jane Bowles.
  • 2004-6,Humber School for Writers, Summer Workshop, Toronto, Writing Instructor: 3hr/daily fiction workshops, predominantly concerned with the short story. Strong emphasis placed on textual analysis and revision.
  • 1998-9, University of Southern California, School of Cinematic Arts, Los Angeles, Teaching Assistant: Led discussions and graded MFA candidates in a documentary production and theory class. Addressed issues of voice, perspective, and bias in documentary film.

Awards & Honors

  • Cullman Center Fellow at the New York Public Library, 2010-11
  • MacDowell Colony Fellow, 2007
  • Sundance Institute Screenwriting Fellow, 2006
  • John Simon Guggenheim Fellow, 2005
  • The New Yorker “20 Under 40” Fiction Writers, 2010
  • American Jewish Press Association, Simon Rockower Award, 2007
  • City of Toronto Book Award, 2005
  • Commonwealth First Book Prize (Canada/Caribbean), 2005
  • Danuta Gleed Award for Short Fiction, 2005
  • “Jewish Quarterly” Wingate Prize for Fiction (UK), 2005
  • Canadian Jewish Fiction Prize, 2005
  • Reform Judaism Prize for Jewish Fiction (US), 2005
  • Moment Magazine Emerging Writer Award, Fiction (US) 2004
  • National Magazine Awards Silver Prize – Fiction (Canada), 2004
  • Short List: Frank O’Connor International Short Story Prize, 2005
  • Short List: LA Times Arthur Seidenbaum First Fiction Award, 2005
  • Short List: National Magazine Awards (US) 2005
  • Short List: Canadian Booksellers Award for Fiction, 2005
  • Short List: Governor General’s Award for Fiction, 2004
  • Short List: GuardianFirst Book Award (UK), 2004
  • Short List: Borders Original Voices Award, 2004
  • The New York Times “Notable Book 2004″
  • New York Public Library “25 Books to Remember 2004″
  • LA Times “25 Best Books of the Year”
  • Globe and Mail “100 Best Books of 2004″
  • The Economist “Best Books of 2004″
  • “Top 10 Books of 2004″
  • The Independent “Best of 2004″
  • Chicago Tribune “Best of 2004″
  • Publishers Weekly “Best of 2004″
  • Moscow Times “Best of 2004”
  • Honourable Mention, O Henry Prize Stories 2007
  • Honourable Mention, Best American Short Stories 2004
  • Jury Member, Hot Docs International Documentary Festival, 2005
  • Canada Council Grant, 2004
  • City of Toronto Arts Grant, 2004
  • Ontario Arts Council Grant, 2003


  • PEN Canada
  • The Writers’ Union of Canada
  • The Writers’ Guild of Canada


  • Reading and basic speaking competence in Russian and Hebrew.
  • Basic comprehension in French.



  • David Bezmozgis, The Free World, Farrar, Straus and Giroux 2011; Canadian edition HarperCollins Canada 2011; UK edition Viking 2011; rights sold to Germany, France, Holland, Israel, Italy and Spain.
  • David Bezmozgis, Dionne Brand, Caroline Adderson, eds. Journey Prize Stories, 19, Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 2007
  • David Bezmozgis, Natasha and Other Stories, by Farrar, Straus and Giroux 2004; Canadian edition HarperCollins Canada 2004; Canadian paperback HarperPerennial 2005; US paperback Picador 2005; Dutch edition De Bezige Bij 2004; UK edition Jonathan Cape 2005; German edition Kiepenhauer & Witsch 2005; French edition Chrisitian Bourgois 2005; Italian edition Ugo Guanda 2005; Spanish edition Destino 2005; Catalan edition Columna 2005; Latvian edition Atena 2005; Japanese edition Shinchosha 2005; Israeli edition Kinneret-Zmora 2006. Foreign rights sold to Portugal, Sweden, Turkey, and Serbia.

Fiction in Collections and Anthologies

  • “Natasha”, My Mistress’s Sparrow is Dead: Great Love Stories From Chekhov to Munro, p. 176-197, edited by Jeffrey Eugenides, HarperCollins, New York: 2008
  • “Tapka”, The Penguin Book of Canadian Short Stories, p. 119-127, edited by Jane Urquhart, Penguin Canada, Toronto: 2007
  • “Lubyanka 2 September 1918”, Four Letter Word: New Love Letters, p. 32-34, edited by Joshua Knelman and Rosalind Porter, Knopf Canada, Toronto: 2008
  • “A New Gravestone for an Old Grave”, Open Country: Canadian Literature An Anthology, p. 65-87, edited by Robert Lecker, Thomson/Nelson, Toronto: 2007
  • “An Animal to the Memory”, Making a Difference: Canadian Multicultural Literatures in English, 2nd Edition, p. 497-503, edited by Smaro Kamboureli, Oxford University Press, Toronto: 2007
  • “Tapka”, Style and Substance 2nd edition, p. 152-159, edited by Claudia Rock and Suneeti Phadke, Pearson/Longman, Saint-Laurent: 2007
  • “A New Gravestone for an Old Grave”, The Best American Short Stories 2006, p. 259-290, edited by Ann Patchett, Houghton Mifflin, Boston: 2006
  • “The Russian Riviera”, TOK Book 1: Diaspora Dialogues, p. 1-33, edited by Helen Walsh, Zephyr Press, Toronto: 2006
  • “Natasha”, Best American Short Stories 2005, p. 318-338, edited by Michael Chabon, Houghton Mifflin, Boston: 2005

Fiction and Essays in Newspapers and Magazines

  • “Pickled Cabbage”, The New Yorker, November 22, 2010 p.66
  • “Next Year In Cleveland: Soviet Jewry’s Exodus and Diaspora”, Harper’s Magazine, November 2010, p. 81-86
  • “*The Train of Their Departure”, The New Yorker, August 9, 2010, p. 61-69
  • “On George Grosz’s A Small Yes and a Big No”, Goethe-Institut Toronto: Canadian Authors Present Their Favourite German Authors, Spring 2009
  • “Hannukah”, (reprint from Dec. 2006), December 4, 2007
  • “*The Proposition”, Harper’s Magazine, September 2007, p. 80-84
  • “On Literary Love: Leonard Michaels”,, May 22, 2007
  • “Requiem For My Grandfather, Jakov Milner, Zionist”, Guilt and Pleasure Magazine, No. 4, Spring 2007, p. 35-41
  • “From Riga With Latkes”, Canadian House and Home, November 2006, p. 102-106
  • “The Classic Suit That Says ‘I Do’”, Men’s Health, September 2006, p. 18-24
  • “Destination: Montreal”,, August 10, 2006
  • “On Lolita”, Threepenny Review, Winter 2005, p. 14
  • “Reading Machiavelli’s ‘The Prince’”,, July 18, 2005
  • “*The Russian Riviera”, The New Yorker, May 19, 2005, p. 71-82
  • “Introduction”, Mordecai Richler’s Solomon Gursky Was Here, Penguin Canada, Toronto: 2005, xi-xvi
  • “*A New Gravestone for an Old Grave”, Zoetrope All-Story, Vol. 9 no. 2, Summer 2005, 42-61
  • “*Lubyanka 2 September 1918”, The Walrus Magazine, Summer 2005, p. 53-55
  • “Refusenik: Alexander Lerner”, The New York Times Magazine, December 24, 2004, p. 23
  • “The Bittersweet Smell of Success”, Details Magazine, September 2004, p. 154
  • “Dubbing: Italian Style”, The Walrus Magazine, Field Notes, July 2004, p. 18-19
  • “*Natasha”, Harper’s Magazine, May 2004, p. 72-79
  • “The Long Road to Kentucky”, Saturday Night Magazine, March 2004, p. 51-54
  • “*Choynski”, The Walrus Magazine, November/December 2003, p. 81-86
  • “*The Second Strongest Man”, Zoetrope All-Story, Volume 7. No. 2, Summer 2003, p. 91-100
  • “*Tapka”, The New Yorker, May 19, 2003, p. 74-79
  • “*Roman Berman, Massage Therapist”, Harper’s Magazine, May 2003, p. 69-75
  • “*Guynemer”, Grain, Vol. 30, no. 4, Spring 2003, p. 45-56
  • “*Minyan”, Prairie Fire, Vol. 23, no. 4 Winter 2002-03, p. 36-47

Stories Adapted for Radio and Stage

“The Proposition”, Symphony Space, Selected Shorts. New York. December 12, 2007. Part of MacDowell Colony Centennial Celebration. National US radio broadcast on NPR.

Narrative and Documentary Films

Victoria Day
87 minutes, 35 mm, 2009
E1 Entertainment Theatrical (Canada)
Writer, Director, Producer

A coming-of-age story set in Toronto in 1988 chronicling a momentous week in the life of a sixteen year-old Russian Jewish boy.

The Genuine Article: The First Trial
The Documentary Channel, Canada
79 minutes, Video, 2003
Writer, Director, Editor

The film follows three Canadian law students and one Bay Street law firm during the intensive and highly competitive summer recruitment period. Shot in a verite style, with the aim of presenting as unmediated a perspective on the events as possible.

The Diamond Nose
The Movie Network, Canada
15 minutes, 16 mm, 2000
Writer, Director

A magical realist story about a Jewish boy who has a nose that is both indestructible and incomparably large.

L.A. Mohel
KCET, Los Angeles
25 minutes, Video, 1999
Writer, Director
Master’s Thesis Film

The film follows three practitioners of the ancient rite of Jewish ritual circumcision, an Orthodox rabbi, a nurse midwife, and a doctor popularly known as “the mohel to the stars.” Through them, the film explores the changing nature of Jewish community, tradition, and culture.

Talks and Presentations (Partial List)

  • Reed College, “Visiting Writer Series”, November, 2010
  • Wabash College, “Contemporary Canadian Writers”, October, 2010
  • York University “Canadian Writers in Person Series”, November, 2009
  • The New Yorker Festival, Fiction Reading with Jonathan Franzen, October, 2009
  • San Francisco Jewish Book Fair, “Panel on Vasily Grossman” November, 2007
  • New York Public Library, “Going Places: The Work of Leonard Michaels” October, 2007
  • Columbia University, Creative Writing Program, “The ‘Personal’ in Writing”, October, 2007
  • UCLA Armand Hammer Museum, “Summer Reading Series” excerpt from the novel The Free World, work-in-progress, 2007
  • 92nd Street Y/Makor, excerpt from the novel The Free World, work-in-progress, April, 2007
  • Blue Metropolis Festival, Montreal, April, 2007
  • Toronto Public Library “Freedom To Read Week” PEN Canada reading event, February, 2007
  • John Carroll University, Cleveland, “Red, White and Read: Canadian Authors Come to Cleveland” Series, February, 2007
  • McGill University, Department of Jewish Studies “The Future of North American Jewish Writing” March, 2006
  • University of San Francisco, Swig Judaic Studies Program, Reading and Interview, February, 2006
  • The New Yorker Festival, Fiction Reading with T.C. Boyle, September, 2005
  • Jewish Book Week: London, England, March, 2005
  • International Festival Of Authors, Toronto, 2004-05, 2007
  • Edinburgh International Book Festival, August, 2004
  • Chicago Tribune Printer’s Row Book Fair, June, 2004