In Everything I See Your Hand: Stories

Univ. of New Orleans. Jun. 2022. 250p. ISBN 9781608012374. pap. $18.59. F
DEBUT Intimate and unblinking, these 10 stories from newcomer Kuzmich capture the uneasy dance between slow assimilation and dashed dreams in Los Angeles’s Armenian American community. It’s a special tribute to both the place and the author, for this first collection is also her last; she died in 2017 of lung cancer. Kuzmich is adept at revealing the sorrow rimming the everyday. In the autobiographical opening story, structured around the complexities of the Armenian language, she articulates the frustrations of her women students, which are picked up later in “The Kingsley Drive Chorus”: “We lived our lives pressed against glass. Our husbands…spent their days without us…. Our children retreated into worlds that were unkind to us.” Carmen blames her son’s arrest on his involvement with two other boys, but nothing she does—not her kindness or her determined adaptability to a new life—can stop his downward slide or the imperturbable rudeness of the other boys’ mother until one last desperate act. Having survived an earthquake in Armenia at age four, Zara has navigated a tricky life—which many men would try to change “by stealing it, putting her on paper, putting her in a song, putting her in bed”—but can she truly find happiness with her new husband?

CORRECTION: This review originally misstated the year and cause of Kuzmich’s death. She died in 2017 of lung cancer.

VERDICT A broodingly beautiful collection made more poignant by the author’s untimely death in 2017; not just for those interested in the Armenian American experience.
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