Although it's easy to forget with all the fan excitement, David Foster Wallace's The Pale King isn't the only big novel that's just arrived in bookstores. While it may not be the last work of a once-in-a-generation talent, David Bezmozgis's The Free World has been making a splash in literary circles. The debut novel from one of the The New Yorker's "20 Under 40" list from last summer, it tells the story of the Krasnanskys, a family of displaced Latvian Jews, waiting for Visas so that they can move to North America in the late 1970s. Although the 37-year-old Canadian has already released a book of short stories, Natasha and Other Stories, the reaction to The Free World suggests the novel is establishing Bezmozgis as a writer to pay attention to.
A survey of early reviews across the internet reveals that Bezmozgis first novel is something special, and even those that aren't as enthusiastic still label Bezmozgis a serious talent:
Adam Langer for The New York Times Almost immediately, Langer heaps a lot of praise on Bezmozgis' plate--perhaps too much--by comparing him to Philip Roth and Leonard Michaels:
Might it be overstating the case to include this first-time novelist in the same sentence as such fine writers as Mr. Roth and Mr. Michaels? Well, Mr. Bezmozgis’s taut 2004 debut collection “Natasha and Other Stories” suggested that he might well be of those authors’ caliber; “The Free World” goes a long way toward confirming this status.
Susan Salter Reynolds for the Los Angeles Times Reynolds praises Bezmozgis' sense of characters and looks forward to following the young writer. She writes: "Bezmozgis is very good at channeling these characters. He lets them speak. He listens to them. He watches where their thoughts wander. Soon he will have followed these characters from his past to the end of their roads; it will be fascinating to see whom he follows next."