Willing Davidson on Stephanos's friendship with Naomi

Willing Davidson: Along with his relationship with Judith, he also becomes friends with her 11-year-old daughter, who is something of a handful. She's not the kind of girl who sits on a stool and smiles sweetly. She is a challenge, and there's something about Stephanos that makes it so that they have a very quick connection. Stephanos is in his late thirties, probably—we're never exactly told, but he's been in the U.S. for 17 years—and this is an 11-year-old girl. And, slowly, she starts hanging out at his store. She has been to the library and brought back a sack of books that are way above her age level, and she and Stephanos start to take turns reading Dostoyevsky to each other. Now, in the hands of a less graceful writer, this could be a real stumbling block—the idea of an 11-year-old girl and a man in his late thirties reading Dostoyevsky together—but Dinaw has such a light, graceful touch that this really works. We see them having a real bond, and towards the end of the novel, Naomi becomes one of the characters we really remember most.

Willing Davidson talks about Stephanos's friendship with Naomi.