Yevgeny Gelman, grandfather of Slava Gelman, "didn't suffer in the exact way" he needs to have suffered to qualify for the restitution the German government has been paying out to Holocaust survivors. But suffer he has - as a Jew in the war; as a second-class citizen in the USSR; and as an immigrant to America. High-minded Slava wants to put all this immigrant scraping behind him. Only the American Dream is not panning out for him.
Maya Shulman and Alex Rubin met in 1992, when she was a Ukrainian exchange student with "a devil in [her] head" about becoming a chef instead of a medical worker, and he was the coddled son of Russian immigrants wanting to toe the water of a less predictable life. Twenty years later Maya Rubin is a medical worker in suburban New Jersey, and Alex his father's second in the family business.
"Nearly ruined by Author reading his own book."