Each member of the Krasnovskys has his or her own reasons for emigrating. Alec has been stunted by the conformity of Russian life, the way no advancement or achievement was possible for him in the Soviet Union of the 1970s, Polina is seeking adventure, even though it means being torn away from her sister, the only person she has ever truly loved, Karl wants to make money, bundles of it, and the West seems to offer boundless, if not necessarily legal, opportunities, Mrs. Krasnovsky was once a physician but has subsided into mere grandmotherhood and wants religious freedom for her descendants, and Samuil, a hero of World War II who still treasures his medals and worships the Soviet Union, sees no reason to leave but is dragged unwillingly along by the others.
In Rome the family has turbulent adventures: suspenseful encounters with black marketeers, touching affairs with unsuitable partners, unfortunate pregnancies, unending disputes. But whatever the miseries he’s created for his characters, Bezmozgis’s take on the family’s plight is wry and humourous. This is book that will make you laugh as well as cry.
The critic for one esteemed publication compared Bezmozgis to Philip Roth. I can see why. Like Roth, he dabbles in tragedy behind a mask of jokiness. He’s not raunchy, like Portnoy’s Papa, yet he’s every bit as witty. But here his resemblance to Roth ends. Roth’s fictional absorption is with himself; Bezmozgis is far more interested in the lives of others.
E-Mail (will not be published) (required)
Yes, sign me up for FabOverFifty's free and fabulous e-mails, featuring weekly giveaways and clever content.
Thanks for the advice. I’m buying 3 of them.
Words are so important, so pourfewl. I liked the fact that the Leisl’s parents were communists, another perspective of the sufferings done at the hands of Nazi Germany. Her foster parents seem to be average people, yet are sympathizers with Jews, Communists, et. al. Gives us hope for humanity. I left #316 in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Let’s see who this book will impact next. Bravo Zusack!
I just finished reading “In The Garden of Beasts” and I flew through it! I love reading non-fiction and I have a special love of history. This read doesn’t disappoint! Reading of the infancy of the Nazi Party in the early 1930s and its evolution thereafter was riveting. The intrigue experienced by the US Ambassador to Germany was made all the more interesting through the amoral antics of his adult daughter and her liaisons with high-ranking Nazis and Russian agents. You will instantly recognize the names of so very many famous Americans visiting Germany at the time. As with all of Larson’s books, you learn something and you enjoy an excellent story too!
So glad you agree with me about Larson’s new book. Riveting is indeed the word for this book.
Book recommendations? Where to find? Reader, I have special radar swiveling and pulling me, pointing the way to Goodreads, Powells Books Site, friends in bookclubs, and best of all, libraries, where in Pasadena, the numbers 092 strike magic in my heart because that means memoir. I’ve also written 2 – Without A Net: A Sojourn in Russia, and You Carry the Heavy Stuff, available through me, Lulu and Amazon. Good luck to all who read!
This is a good list and I already have several of these books ready to go! I get most of my book recommendations from book sites that I love and respect: Bookbrowse, Bookreporter.com, and Goodreads. From all the “official” comments I receive from these sites, there’s also the general comments from everyday readers that I enjoy comparing. I’m never at a point when I don’t know what to read.
I hope my columns for FabOverFifty will be another source you’ll consult.
I use many of the resources already mentioned. In addition, ‘Bookmarks’ magazine –in print and online– does a great job of aggregating reviews from a variety of publications. I also solicit recommendations from the booksellers at my local independent bookstores.
[...] P.S. “You have to read this.” [...]
That’s an easy question. For book recommendations, I always ask Linda Wolfe (former NYT book reviewer and member of the National Book Critics Circle). I enjoy reading her reviews in FabOver50. Also, I wish you’d credit her by name when you refer to “a former New York Times book reviewer.” The short reviews in this piece are mostly hers (except where noted as being from another FOF).
I simply enjoying browsing my local Paw ,Paw,Michigan local library they have a selection of outdated books for a mere 5 for a dollar i check regularly…
Also i love ordering books from Bargain books Edward R.Hamilton bookseller company is great too…
Also for books i enjoy my local Antwerp sunshine library book sale coming up this september 2011 ..but when the books are so much a bag full!!! As much as i love books i am unemployed so i watch for all bargains or freebies to add to my own personal home library too..I love collecting the Dummie series of books and idiot guide books on so many topics !!
I already read a number of them and read two or three books a week….read Daniel DiSilva for excitement and I have other great recommendations…right now I am into Ellen Feldman and her “The Boy Who Loved Anne Frank” is amazing.
I liked seeing Liesel’s pescreptive because everything I read about this subject before was from a Jewish person or American soldier’s pescreptive. It is interesting to see how kids grow up to form opinions and how people can only keep them to themselves so much. Sometimes it is too painful not to be kind! If you like this book, you should read The Red Scarf Girl too. It deals with similar issues for a girl coming of age in communist China who is torn between the values of her family and the values she is learning in school and society. This book also reminded me of Skellig in a way because I kept thinking that Max was like the weird, magical man who the kids found in the shed. If they do make it a movie, I hope that Jean-Pierre Jeunet directs it and it looks something like City of the Lost Children !
[...] reviewed this book at length earlier this year, so I’ll be brief and just say here that if I had to tell you my choice for the “Number One [...]