The Free World by David Bezmozgis

The Free World

David Bezmozgis

A story of leaving, of exile, new beginning - but also of remembering the past and how it has shaped your present and future. This is a very human tale - big on characters. It's rich and diverse - compelling and believable.

Extract

On his third day at the briefing department, standing before the newly arrived émigrés at their cafeteria orientation, Alec felt like a fraud. He felt tempted to confess that, not one week before, he had been sitting in their place, and that he knew no more about Rome than they did. But he was aware that this kind of revelation would only sow panic.
After the orientation Alec made the rounds of the émigrés' hotel rooms. He distributed U.S. emigration forms, priming people for their Persecution Stories and, if necessary, their Party Stories. Some people came prepared with a vast catalog of grievances that they had been compiling their entire lives; others needed some interpretive assistance.
A couple from Berdichev found the concept particularly boggling: The wife looked at Alec like he was obtuse.
-What do we need this for?
-Nobody's saying you need it. The Americans need it. You're claiming refugee status. To be a refugee you need to have been persecuted.
-The entire country was persecuted.

Parallels
  • My New American Life by Francine Prose
  • The Museum of Unconditional Surrender by Dubravka Ugresic
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Explicit sexual content