The Free World by David Bezmozgis
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
If this hadn't been on the Giller Prize shortlist, I wouldn't have finished it, which is why it gets 2 stars.
The premise is really interesting - Jews from Soviet Russian, emigrating to "the free world." The Giller Prize is awarded for Canadian literature so I expected the characters to get to Canada eventually, and that is what sustained me through the book, but then it never happened and I really felt like the author stole that opportunity from me. No pay off! Instead the family and others related/linked to them tread water in Rome waiting for visas and apartments and nothing really happens. Such potential, but failed in my opinion.
There are some elements I'd like to read more about, possibly in other novels, about the revisionist history created by people trying to put their personal histories into immigration-positive lights (downplaying Communist activity, for one). I am also interested in the Canadian immigrant experience. I feel like I've read a lot of books about the American immigrant experience, but not so much from our friends in the north.
"Alec didn't need to look to confirm the magnitude of his father's disapproval; he was an expert in the many tones of his father's silences."