Summary

Summer 1978. Brezhnev sits like a stone in the Kremlin, Israel and Egypt are inching towards peace, and in the bustling, polyglot streets of Rome, strange new creatures have appeared: Soviet Jews who have escaped to freedom through a crack in the Iron Curtain.
Among the thousands who have landed in Italy to secure visas for new lives in the West are the members of the Krasnansky family - three generations of Russian Jews. There is Samuil, an old Communist and Red Army veteran, who reluctantly leaves the country to which he has dedicated himself body and soul; Karl, his elder son, a man eager to embrace the opportunities emigration affords; Alec, his younger son, a carefree playboy for whom life has always been a game; and Polina, Alec's new wife, who has risked the most by breaking with her old family to join this new one.
Together, they will spend six months in Rome - their way station and purgatory. They will immerse themselves in the carnival of emigration, in an Italy rife with love affairs and ruthless hustles, with dislocation and nostalgia, with the promise and peril of a better life.
Through the unforgettable Krasnansky family, David Bezmozgis has created an intimate portrait of a tumultuous era. Written in precise, musical prose, The Free World is a stunning debut novel, a heartfelt multigenerational saga of great historical scope and even greater human debth. Enlarging on the themes of aspiration and exile that infused his critically acclaimed first collection, Natasha and Other Stories, The Free World establishes Bezmozgis as one of our most mature and accomplished storytellers.
©2011 David Bezmozgis (P)2011 Audible, Inc.
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Critic reviews

"[A]n assured, complex social novel whose relevance will be obvious to any reader genuinely curious about recent history, the limits of love, and the unexpected burdens that attend the arrival of freedom." (Publishers Weekly)
"Bezmozgis proves why he was recently proclaimed one of The New Yorker’s 20 Under 40; this is mellifluous, utterly captivating writing, and you’ll live with the Krasnansky family as if it were your own. Highly recommended." (Library Journal)
“Self-assured, elegant, and perceptive. . . [Bezmozgis] has created an unflinchingly honest, evenhanded and multilayered retelling of the Jewish immigrant story that steadfastly refuses to sentimentalize or malign the Old World or the New. Sholem Aleichem might well feel proud. And perhaps so too might Philip Roth and Leonard Michaels.” (Adam Langer, The New York Times)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
3 out of 5 stars
By Janet on 28-06-11

Excellent Character study -don't expect a plot

This book gives the listener a window into the lives of a family in transition between locales, relationships and cultures. It paints immigration as likely closer to reality than the relief of liberation we usually hear about. I happened to be in the mood for such a piece as I listened to it, but the narrator's deep pitch and unimaginative delivery almost stopped me from finishing. Although one of the points of the tale is that we trade one complex circumstance for another, there was NOTHING resolved for any of the characters at the end nor did the listener feel that anyone had learned anything. One of the most unsatisfying endings ever.

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7 of 7 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By TZVI SZAJNBRUM on 11-04-11

Excellant novel

This is my first experience reading David Bezmogis, but it won't be my last. This was an exceptional novel, extremely well-written, superb narration and fascinating story-line. This book provided insight into the mindset of Russian emigres that I found quite interesting, to say the least.

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7 of 8 people found this review helpful

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