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It’s also a chance to write a believable story for a discerning audience.

Perhaps this is, more generally, a challenge of immigrant fiction as well as fiction by writers who come from strong ethno-cultural communities. There are plenty of “meta” bits in this year’s books by Soviet-born émigré writers, and they add up to these authors’ evident understanding that a break from the fictions that are hybrid memoirs may be timely.

Arianna, as an American Jewish reader of Slava’s Soviet story, is intrigued—but it’s important to note that this conversation is set in the summer of 2006, when the output of Russian-Jewish stories, though already ascendant, was still modest in number. The question in 2014 is whether literature written in English by Soviet-born émigré Jewish writers has stories to tell that are still fresh and new, and whether they have the ability to pose questions that haven’t been asked before.

The impression from reading this year’s batch of “Russian” books is mixed.

“You form a certain image,” says Arianna Bock, a third-generation American Jew, to Slava Gelman, a twentysomething, first-generation Russian Jewish immigrant.

She is speaking, in Boris Fishman’s debut novel , of how she perceives Russia, just as many American Jews do, based on the stories their grandparents had passed down about the old country.

Zhenya had previously dismissed Slava’s writerly aspirations as unsuitable for a successful immigrant.

Now, ever the schemer, he cynically embraces Slava as a writer and asks him to complete the “narrative” part of the application, which asks for the applicant’s account of the personal suffering endured during the Holocaust—with his wife’s story deployed as if it were his own.

The writers in question form a generation: They were all born in the 1970s in the Soviet Union—a country that had occupied much of the American imagination during the Cold War.