The Free World, By David Bezmozgis

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The Independent Culture

This second book and first novel from David Bezmozgis lifts off as the Krasnansky family arrive in Rome, preparing for new lives in the West along with thousands of Soviet Jewish refugees after fleeing Communism. Sadly, they are let down by their American sponsor, and bickering, bewildered family members are left in a state of seemingly perpetual limbo.

Despite being set in the summer of 1978, the heart of this novel – about the waiting-room state of immigrant families seeking out new promised lands, re-defining notions of home and reflecting on the world they left behind – is very relevant to present times. It is written with a maturity and understated flair that makes it a respectable follow-up to his feted debut stories, Natasha.