Saturday, December 31, 2011

.„... but we still carry its genes” — reflections on David's Bezmozgis „The Free World"

I had quite special and unique impressions when I was reading „The Free World. A Novel” by David Bezmozgis. Born 1973 in Riga, Latvia Bezmozgis came to Canada as a child. Well educated in both Canadian and American universities, Bezmozgis debuted in 2004 with his „Natasha and Other Stories”. He is now well known filmmaker and writer. As it was for his debut, his new novel (published this year, 2011) „The Free World” reflects the experiences of Jewish refugees from former Soviet Union. The action of „The Free World” is set mostly in 1978 Rome with some episodes in Vienna and frequent comebacks to then soviet Latvia. Three generations of Krasnansky family of Latvian Jews, who escaped from USSR come through the painful process of getting accustomed to the free world. They look at this new world with their eyes which not long ago looked at the world through communist lenses. And to me this transformation, this change is the essence of the book. They are in the free world, but, to various degree they still „carry communist genes”.
On the other plane the book is very nostalgic and sad. There is a notion and a feeling of specific „uprootedness” the characters experience in Italy. A lot of thoughts about the feeling of Jewish refugees to the state of Israel, so often painted by remnants of soviet propaganda residing in their heads... Their specific reactions (Jews on one side of their souls and former soviets on the other...)  to swift change of Popes (this was the year of Paul VI, John Paul I and John Paul II)

Reading (i.e. listening to incredible voice of Stefan Rudnicki) the book I had that specific feeling of listening to debutant, although that does not make it worse than any other books I recently read...

BTW, here is 8 minutes long recording of Bezmozgis reading from the novel...

Published in the last hour of 2011...

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