The Free World by David Bezmozgis is an impressive, sweeping first novel about three generations of Russian Jews and all the different places that life takes them. The Krasnasky family must stay in Italy for a time with other Jewish Russian refugees to receive their visas to move to Canada, the US or Australia. Samuil, Polina and their two sons Alec and Karl and their story are moving and complex.
For today’s Further Reading we want to feature other books that have a similar sweeping family saga.
The Plague of Doves by Louise Erdrich - Louise Erdrich has become famous for her Native American family sagas, but her 2009 Pulitzer Prize nominated novel The Plague of Doves is just a stunning example of how wonderful Erdrich’s eye is for the interactions of families. This drama doubles as a mystery, but solving the mystery is not at the core of this story, instead is the way family, race and culture all intertwine to impact our lives.
Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides – Like The Free World, Middlesex is a story of immigration and exile, but extends that theme to include the feeling of being a foreigner in your own body. Calliope, later known as Cal, has always felt like there was something different and wrong about his body. Middlesex is Cal telling his story, of his personal transformation from woman to man, but also of his family’s transition from Greek to American.
Brick Lane by Monica Ali – Brick Lane examines the cultural transition from small, Bangladeshi village to fast-moving London through the eyes of Nazneen, a young woman who has just married a man twenty years her senior.
Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese - Cutting for Stone is another family epic that crosses time and country. Marion and Shiva Stone are twin brothers who grow up in Ethiopia among rumors of revolution.