Cover image of "The Betrayers," a novel about moral absolutism

I wouldn’t be a very good revolutionary. I’ve always had trouble with moral absolutists — the sort of stiff-necked people who will never budge from their views even when the consequences for others around them will be dire.

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

The Betrayers is about such a man. Baruch Kotler, a Right-Wing minister in the Israeli cabinet and a hero among the refuseniks who stood up against the anti-Semitism of the USSR, has resigned when the coalition government in which he’s serving has voted to demolish and abandon certain Jewish settlements on Arab land. Kotler takes this step even knowing to a certainty that his enemies will go public with damaging information that could destroy his family.

In The Betrayers, David Bezmozgis follows Kotler and his beautiful young mistress through the Crimea, where they have fled following publication of photos revealing their affair. In Yalta, in a coincidence that is far-fetched beyond belief, Kotler confronts the man whose false accusation sent him to prison in Siberia for 13 years.

The Betrayers by David Bezmozgis ★★★☆☆

The Betrayers is a talky novel, with the principal characters — even the least educated among them — exchanging nuanced philosophical monologues that conjure up images of the stage: bad plays, not good ones. Though I didn’t enjoy reading this book, I did manage to stick with it to the end for the revealing picture it paints of Russia after the fall of Communism and of Israeli politics.

David Bezmozgis is an award-winning novelist, short story-writer, and filmmaker. He is Canadian but was born in Riga, Latvia. The Betrayers is his second novel.

This book is one of Top 10 great popular novels reviewed on this site.

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