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The Free World: A Novel MP3 CD – Audiobook, MP3 Audio, Unabridged
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From Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
“Bezmozgis overturns our cliched expectations of immigrant idealism . . . Strikingly, he never pretends that his confused, self-interested characters are admirable, virtuous or even likable, but he respects them nonetheless. His book pays tribute to their tenacity and to their sometimes accidental courage . . . Bezmozgis laces even his darkest humor with pathos. While his depictions don’t flatter his subjects, they honor them by conveying each person’s individual history, motivations and truth.”—Liesl Schillinger, The New York Times Book Review
“The linked stories of David Bezmozgis’s acclaimed debut collection, Natasha (2004), measured a young Latvian Jew’s life spent as a foreigner in a foreign land—North America—and sketched an ever widening gulf between history and tradition and the immigrant’s Western experience. His perceptive and engaging first novel, The Free World, is anchored a few years earlier than Natasha, in 1978 and records the Krasnansky family’s existence in transit—no longer in the Soviet Union but not yet at its final destination.”—Time
“David Bezmozgis’s debut story collection Natasha, met with the sort of critical reception that even grandiose adolescents are too realistic to expect . . . More recently, The New Yorker included him on the roster every young writer dreams about: its 20 under 40 list, in June 2010. If that final accolade seemed a little much last summer—six years after the release of Bezmozgis’ only book-length work—his new novel, The Free World, makes it seem prescient.”—Slate
“What makes Bezmozgis such a joy to read is his sincerity of tone, his seemingly bottomless empathy. Irony and black humor are inevitable characteristics of prose by writers from the former Soviet Union; they are ingrained in our literature, our very worldview. As young immigrant writers, our knowledge of our community benefits from both an insider’s and outsider’s perspective, but the danger of this observational stance is that potential to turn on our characters, make them comical at the expense of their humanity. Bezmozgis never falls into this trap. His loyalties lie staunchly with his creations, and the absurdities he points out are deeply funny, yet filtered through a mature wisdom.”—The Forward
“Thought-provoking . . . powerfully realized, absorbing, and old-fashioned in satisfying ways.”—The Boston Globe
“Bezmozgis’s keen sensitivity and ability to render human frailty is exquisite. In its most successful moments, The Free World not only localizes the grand drama of shifting, global ideologies but also binds the allegorical to relatable human emotions.”—Time Out New York (4 out of 5 stars)
“[The Free World’s] strength is in the language. Unlike the crisp, tidy prose of Natasha, written in the detached candor of the teenage narrator, the voices of The Free World speak a new Frankenstein tongue, its seams purposefully showing. Though written in English, the dialogue has the distinct rhythm and tone of Russian that has been translated, almost word-for-word, without an interpreter’s laborious task of adjusting for context. As a storytelling device, it’s perfect; it immerses the reader in the Krasnansky’s household and, lest he forget, reminds him that the place he has entered is very Russian—not Russians among Americans, as he may be used to, or even Russians among Italians.”—The New York Observer
“In the past decade, a handful of writers have added compelling twists to the classic immigration novel, adding new and unexpected layers to tales of newcomers in new lands. Jeffrey Eugenides, for example, wrote about a hermaphrodite immigrant in Middlesex; in Junot Diaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, the protagonist had a fantastic imagination and used an unexpected language infused with Spanish and video game slang. Now comes David Bezmozgis’s The Free World, an immigration novel in which the characters don’t actually immigrate . . . Each person in the rambling Krasnansky clan is explored in detail and with keen insight, which Bezmozgis achieves with dazzling manipulations of point-of-view.”—Bookforum
Top Customer Reviews
The Soviet Jews that were released in the 1960s and 1970s could not travel directly to Israel or the US. Often, they stopped over in Vienna or Rome en route to the free world. The stop over could take days, weeks and even months. Bezmozgis' story opens in 1978 with the arrival of the Krasnansky family in Rome. The familial patriarch, Samuil, is an old Communist and Red Army veteran, who reluctantly leaves his home and life. His wife, Emma, reconnected with her spiritual heritage in the Soviet Union. Although she is only a supporting character, she displays a sharp understanding of her family and their problems. Their eldest and pragmatic son, Karl, arrives with his wife and two boys. His muscled physique and opportunistic outlook lead him into the underworld of Rome. The younger son, Alec, a bon vivant and womanizer, arrives in Rome, with his new, scandalously acquired bride, Polina.
The family tries to find its way through the maddening bureaucratic maze of Rome, while struggling to survive and understand why they left. On the way, they find other former Soviet Jews and develop interesting connections. Throughout the novel, Bezmozgis takes us back into the characters' colorful histories, developing who they are and why they left.
Bezmozgis was born in Latvia. Like Gary Shteyngart (Super Sad True Love Story and Absuridstan), Bezmozgis's writing is biting and sharp witted.Read more ›
The Krasnansky family consists of elderly patriarch Samuil, an ardent Jewish atheist and passionate Communist, his devoted wife, Emma, his two sons Alec and Karl, their respective wives, Rosa and Polina (the only non-Jewish family member), and Karl and Rosa's two children. They have come from Riga, Latvia, in the hope of emigrating to Chicago, but their hopes are dashed by relative (literally) circumstances. Now they are émigrés, waiting for visas to Canada, but the family can't readily agree on this bastion of democracy, a place described as similar in climate to their homeland. Additionally, Samuil's precarious health is slowing up the process of obtaining their papers.
Samuil mourns for his Red Army years, and spends his days in Rome isolated emotionally from his family, writing his memoirs. He befriends a one-legged violinist and Ukrainian army veteran whose beliefs are in opposition to his, but is able to reach an understanding and even a poignant intimacy with Josef. He growls at his laconic sons--Alec's self-indulgent, roving eye, and Karl's swift and sordid mercenary involvement with the underworld of Rome.Read more ›
As his vehicle he uses primarily the family Krasnansky - who arrive in a hot Rome in the summer of 1978. They think they are on their way to America as does everyone else of the thousands of émigrés and that they will be welcomed with open arms. Many like Samuil Krasnansky, held important positions back in Riga, he is now levelled more completely than communism ever could to the true ranks of the proletariat. His sons are constantly feuding and scheming as do everyone else. The primary characters are his second son Alec and his wife Polina, they seem to be the weather vane for the families fortunes.
It tells the story of their stay in Rome, and how they eke out a subsistence with dodgy deals, all kinds of deceit and often a helping hand from the refugee organisations. The Russian authorities had been quite generous in letting the Jews go and had given papers to all sorts including refuseniks, dissidents and criminals. This melting pot of political friction, religious ambivalence and criminal tendencies are all explored by Bezmozgis. The lives of each of the characters is explored often by going back to the past to recall what they have been through to bring them to this point, especially the sacrifices and the selfish choices as well as giving into the all too prevalent passions. These continue to haunt and guide them in their present position of being in Rome's waiting room. That is why the Krasnansky's decide on Canada when they are told that the Canadians are not as fussy as the Americans.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Reading this was a struggle-- felt like I was slogging through mud. However you might love it. I didn't.Published 9 months ago by Liam's Gaga
Our book group read and discussed this book and most of us found it dull and disappointing.Published 19 months ago by bernard goldstein
Great book. Brought back some memories. The book stayed with me for days.Published 19 months ago by freqbuyer
The book was not good for me. Too much of the same dull family. The service from the shipper to get the book to me was excellent.Published 20 months ago by Leonard B.
"The Free World" is mostly entertaining, the dialogue is always good, and the relationship between Alec and Polina is beautifully done, love without romanticism. Read morePublished 21 months ago by algo41
I agree with the average ratings for this book. I won't give the book "full marks" primarily because it's a bit hard understanding the story line if you are not familiar... Read morePublished 22 months ago by JMD