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'Panic in a Suitcase' a vivid immigrant tale of two cities
'Panic in a Suitcase' a vivid immigrant tale of two cities

Jewish immigrants have provided a rich source of comedy — some of it dark — in American literature. Think Bernard Malamud, Philip Roth, Gary Shteyngart and, more recently, Anya Ulinich. Make way for a fresh female voice. Yelena Akhtiorskaya, born in Odessa, Ukraine, in 1985, immigrated with her family to Brighton Beach, Brooklyn — a.k.a. Little Odessa — when she was 7. Her first novel, "Panic in a Suitcase," about a family who does the same, is a riotous, satirical take on the aspirational escape-to-a-better-life saga. Her energetic prose is too controlled to be called manic, but it's got Red Bull-strength hyper-caffeinated intensity. When Esther...

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