The Free World
Welcome to Rome. It is the summer of 1978, and the Krasnansky family, bickering, tired and confused, are supposed to be passing through. Alongside thousands of other Soviet Jewish refugees - among them criminals, dissidents and refuseniks - they await passage to their new homes in the West. But escaping Communism is not so easy, especially when some of the Krasnanskys insist on bringing it with them, and even more so when their sponsor in the USA lets them down and they find that they're no longer passing through at all. On the contrary, they're stuck. Welcome, then, to the waiting room of your life, and to a tragic yet comic tale of reckless brothers and long-suffering sisters, ailing parents and innocent children, of love affairs and criminal liaisons, of a wonderfully troubled family and a perpetually wandering people, and their epic search for a home: somewhere, anywhere - or Canada, as it turns out.
A major new talent ... superb Independent
Terrific ... In bringing the tribulations of the Krasnanskys in their Roman limbo so vividly to life, Bezmozgis has written a novel that succeeds admirably in combining comic brilliance with a poignant portrait of a family trapped between two worlds Sunday Times
Self-assured, elegant and perceptive ... [his] taut 2004 debut collection Natasha and Other Stories suggested that he might well be of those authors' [Philip Roth and Leonard Michaels] caliber; The Free World goes a long way toward confirming this status The New York Times
There is a lust for life imbuing his prose - the jokes, the descriptions of faces and kisses and streets and laughter, the sprinkles of Italian, Yiddish and Latvian - making it wonderfully uplifting. It is hard to escape the conclusion that Bezmozgis is one of the most assured new Jewish writers of the century so far The Times
David Bezmozgis projects a sense of ease that is very rare in first novels; he does everything well Telegraph Heavy with the consciousness of time, the inevitability of crises. Bezmozgis has the knack of ending scenes, chapters, especially, at the perfect reverberant moment, plangent or ironic Guardian Colourful, sharply funny and deeply moving Financial Times
Delivered in an understated style which can accommodate serious subtext as well as ironical humour ... His portraits of the family circle are neatly rendered and compassionate ... There is no doubt Bezmozgis remains a writer worth monitoring Independent on Sunday
Alternately comic, sharp and sombre ... it's impossible not to be caught up in the tangled web of its unforgettable case Daily Mail
David Bezmozgis was born in Riga, Latvia, in 1973 and emigrated with his parents to Toronto in 1980. His previous book, Natasha and Other Stories, was shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award, was a New York Times Notable Book of the year, won the Commonwealth Writer's Regional Prize for First Book and has been translated into over a dozen languages. In 2010, he was selected as one of the New Yorker's '20 Under 40', celebrating the twenty most promising fiction writers under the age of forty.