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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Losers: A Critical Analysis

The new PresenTense magazine is out, and with it is a review of Losers that's more like a critical analysis. I didn't know this was going to happen until it showed up on my doorstep, and now I feel gleeful in the way, I guess, that authors do when people read way more into a book than you ever thought you were writing into it:

It is easy to empathize with Jupiter, the awkwardly-named main character of the novel who struggles through adolescence. Jupiter—who immigrated to Philadelphia with his family as part of the Jewish mass exodus from the Soviet Union in the early 1990s—is concerned with his ever-present Russian accent, preoccupied with the opposite sex, and keen on hiding the fact that he lives in a working-class neighborhood.

The book starts with the seemingly innocuous line, “I lost my accent over a long weekend in ninth grade.” For Jupiter, the question of language is central to his self-perception, where the key to being popular is speaking proper English. Despite his best efforts—and some success —in “sounding American,” he nonetheless faces barriers in his quest to fit in. Indeed, Jupiter’s attitudes toward the spoken word formulate one of the more poignant themes in the novel.

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