A compact saga of love, duty, family, and sacrifice from a rising star whose fiction is "self-assured, elegant, perceptive . . . and unflinchingly honest" (New York Times)
These incandescent pages give us one fraught, momentous day in the life of Baruch Kotler, a Soviet Jewish dissident who now finds himself a disgraced Israeli politician. When he refuses to back down from a contrary but principled stand regarding the settlements in the West Bank, his political opponents expose his affair with a mistress decades his junior, and the besieged couple escapes to Yalta, the faded Crimean resort of Kotler's youth. There, shockingly, Kotler comes face-to-face with the former friend whose denunciation sent him to the Gulag almost forty years earlier.
In a whirling twenty-four hours, Kotler must face the ultimate reckoning, both with those who have betrayed him and with those whom he has betrayed, including a teenage daughter, a son facing his own moral dilemma in the Israeli army, and the wife who once campaigned to secure his freedom and stood by him through so much.
Stubborn, wry, and self-knowing, Baruch Kotler is one of the great creations of contemporary fiction. An aging man grasping for a final passion, he is drawn inexorably into a crucible that is both personal and biblical in scope.
In prose that is elegant, sly, precise, and devastating in its awareness of the human heart, David Bezmozgis has rendered a story for the ages, an inquest into the nature of fate and consequence, love and forgiveness. The Betrayers is a high-wire act, a powerful tale of morality and sacrifice that will haunt readers long after they turn the final page.
About the Author
David Bezmozgis is an award-winning writer and filmmaker whose fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, Harper's, Zoetrope, and Best American Short Stories. He was named one of the New Yorker's "20 Under 40" writers in 2010. He lives in Toronto.
Praise for The Betrayers…
"Now that Philip Roth has finished his life's work, let us turn our attention to David Bezmozgis. His bravery and style are off the charts and The Betrayers is his finest, slyest, most robust work yet."—Gary Shteyngart, author of Little Failure and Super Sad True Love Story
"This unforgettable novel squanders no words in its brilliant, deft depictions of love, of memory, of compassion-and, ultimately, despite its title, of loyalty."—Edith Pearlman, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award and finalist for the National Book Award for Binocular Vision
"The Betrayers presents us with the novel-as-scalpel, a brilliant dissection of lives formed and deformed by tyranny, temptation, and the demands of conscience. Just when we think we've arrived at the heart of the story's moral complexity, Bezmozgis cuts again and lays bare yet another layer. It's harrowing, but also thrilling, to see our nature revealed with such unflinching precision. This outstanding novel not only shows Bezmozgis at the top of his form, but also definitively establishes him as one of the foremost writers of his generation."—Ben Fountain, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award and LA Times Book Prize and finalist for the National Book Award for Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk
"In this taut, fierce, forensically insightful novel, David Bezmozgis explores the frictions between goodness and kindness, public and private virtue, forgiveness and forgetting. Compulsive and profound."—A. D. Miller, finalist for the Man Booker Award for Snowdrops
"The Betrayers is a moral thriller in the tradition of Bernard Malamud, but the generosity, grace, and wisdom of the writing belong entirely to David Bezmozgis. The magic of fiction is that it makes the reader care deeply about imaginary strangers, and Bezmozgis is a magician."—Aleksandar Hemon
"The Betrayers is a work of high moral seriousness dispatched with a gripping elegance that recalls some of our finest mid-century writers. Bezmozgis's story of fallen saints and redeemed outcasts is, to put it plainly, the work of a great writer."—Joshua Ferris, author of To Rise Again at a Decent Hour and Then We Came to the End
"Philosophical, provocative and nervy-an interior novel that manages to encompass a breadth of issues."—Kirkus (starred review)
"A novel of compulsive dramatic power, The Betrayers feels as urgent as the news, and as eternal as scripture. David Bezmozgis weds precise, perfect craft with a generous moral vision of the heart, and head, in ceaseless conflict."—Charles Foran, prize-winning author of Mordecai: The Life and Times and Planet Lolita
"An intensely penetrating, transcendent novel... with characters that are absolutely themselves, their flaws, strengths and desires so tenderly and truthfully imagined as they move through the startling turns of a story that rises out of the deep center of Bezmozgis's fine intelligence. Extraordinary."—Barbara Gowdy, Giller Prize finalist author of The White Bone and The Romantic
"In this taut, vigorous, and fast-flowing tale of an unexpected encounter between two old enemies in Crimea...Bezmozgis' dialogue has the ringing clarity of a play, while his characters' churning thoughts address dilemmas of marriage and family relationships and the hidden predicaments that make judging others such a perilous undertaking. Nearly everyone is a betrayer in some way in Bezmozgis' wise, transfixing, and annealing novel of humor and pathos in which today's personal and political paradoxes embody the archetypal conflicts of humankind."—Booklist (starred review)
"A beautifully written exploration of the role fate can play in the finer distinctions between a heroic life and a villainous one... Bezmozgis's novel feels vast, its pages heavy with the complicated debts we owe one another, which are impossible to leave behind."—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"A masterly treatise on the complexity of blame and forgiveness that successfully articulates the loss of individual freedom one experiences while navigation political, family, and religious structures."—Library Journal (starred review)
PRAISE FOR NATASHA AND OTHER STORIES:
"Dazzling, hilarious, and hugely compassionate narratives [written with] freshness and precision ... Readers will find themselves laughing out loud, then gasping as Bezmozgis brings these fictions to the searing, startling, and perfectly pitched conclusions that remind us that, as Babel said, 'no iron can stab the heart so powerfully as a period put in exactly in the right place.'"—Francine Prose, People
"Scary good...Not a line or note in the book rings false."—Esquire
"Extraordinary...[Recalls] the work of Babel, Roth, Saul Bellow, and so many others. Yet Bezmozgis makes these characters, and the state of marginality itself, uniquely his. This hysterical, merciless, yet open-hearted excavation of a Jewish family in the process of assimilating gives his literary predecessors a run for their money."—Daniel Schifrin, Los Angeles Times Book Review
PRAISE FOR THE FREE WORLD:
"Self-assured, elegant, and perceptive. . . [Bezmozgis] has created an unflinchingly honest, evenhanded and multilayered retelling of the Jewish immigrant story that steadfastly refuses to sentimentalize or malign the Old World or the New. Sholem Aleichem might well feel proud. And perhaps so too might Philip Roth and Leonard Michaels."—Adam Langer, New York Times
"Thought-provoking . . . powerfully realized, absorbing, and old-fashioned in satisfying ways."—Boston Globe
"Bezmozgis overturns our cliched expectations of immigrant idealism . . . Strikingly, he never pretends that his confused, self-interested characters are admirable, virtuous or even likable, but he respects them nonetheless. His book pays tribute to their tenacity and to their sometimes accidental courage . . . Bezmozgis laces even his darkest humor with pathos. While his depictions don't flatter his subjects, they honor them by conveying each person's individual history, motivations and truth."—Liesl Schillinger, New York Times Book Review