As a child, writer David Bezmozgis was among the Soviet refugees who waited in a seaside Italian village for a visa to the U.S. or Canada. His novel The Free World explores the grittier side of life there.
In the late 1970s, the Italian seaside town of Ladispoli, about an hour’s drive northwest of Rome, became a way station for Soviet Jewish refugees, many stuck there for months while they awaited visas to enter the United States or Canada. The writer David Bezmozgis, then a child, was among the Jews waiting in limbo there, until his family eventually made it to Toronto, where he set his acclaimed first book, Natasha and Other Stories. For his debut novel, The Free World, Bezmozgis turned to Ladispoli, anchoring the book’s action there. It focuses on Samuil Krasnansky, a grumpy Communist who’s left the Soviet Union against his will; his son Alec, a happy-go-lucky lothario; and Alec’s wife, Polina, a non-Jewish Russian haunted by regret over leaving her aging parents. Bezmozgis spoke to Vox Tablet host Sara Ivry about his recollections of life in Ladispoli, the political differences that tore Jewish families apart in the early years of the Soviet Union, and the seamier side of immigrant life. [Running time: 13:38.]
Daily rate: $2
Monthly rate: $18
Yearly rate: $180
WAIT, WHY DO I HAVE TO PAY TO COMMENT?
Tablet is committed to bringing you the best, smartest, most enlightening and entertaining reporting and writing on Jewish life, all free of charge. We take pride in our community of readers, and are thrilled that you choose to engage with us in a way that is both thoughtful and thought-provoking. But the Internet, for all of its wonders, poses challenges to civilized and constructive discussion, allowing vocal—and, often, anonymous—minorities to drag it down with invective (and worse). Starting today, then, we are asking people who'd like to post comments on the site to pay a nominal fee—less a paywall than a gesture of your own commitment to the cause of great conversation. All proceeds go to helping us bring you the ambitious journalism that brought you here in the first place.
I NEED TO BE HEARD! BUT I DONT WANT TO PAY.
Readers can still interact with us free of charge via Facebook, Twitter, and our other social media channels, or write to us at email@example.com. Each week, we’ll select the best letters and publish them in a new letters to the editor feature on the Scroll.
We hope this new largely symbolic measure will help us create a more pleasant and cultivated environment for all of our readers, and, as always, we thank you deeply for your support.