Saturday 15 October 2011

The Free World

Finished October 15
The Free World by David Bezmozgis
Set in 1978 in and around Rome, this book looks at one family of Russian Jews on their way to a new life. The family is comprised of three generations: Samuil and Emma, their sons Karl and Alec, Karl's wife Rosa and their two sons, and Alec's wife Polina. Samuil is not a practicing Jew, he served in the Red Army and was a card-carrying Communist who had a car and driver. Their life in Rome is one of limbo, waiting for immigration papers for their chosen country and adjusting to life in the West. We see love, responsibility, opportunity, and friendship. Alec is a playboy, always with an eye for a pretty woman. Polina, aware of his weakness has still given up her life to follow him, leaving her family behind. There is a whole community of Soviet Jews, all waiting for life in a new country: Australia, Canada, the United States and, of course, Israel. We see the how this search affects the various family members, and how priorities change as they wait. This is a snapshot of a point in history, done with a close-up of one family caught up in it. Those with good health and sponsoring family members in their destination country move through more quickly, others wonder if they are making the right choices.


  1. I so admire people who have taken on such a drastic change for their families, my parents included. Imagine!

  2. I agree Irene. I look back at my ancestors with huge respect for those life-changing decisions.