The Betrayers, by David Bezmozgis

18741817Baruch Kotler has just arrived in Yalta to find that his hotel reservation has evaporated. His young mistress, Leora, wants to try the other hotels in the Crimean resort town but Baruch is ready to surrender and catch a bus back to the airport. At the station, a woman offers them a room for the week. Later that night, however, Baruch learns that he is staying in the house of the man who denounced him in the 1970s. David Bezmozgis’ The Betrayers takes place over just a few days as Baruch confronts his denouncer, his denoucer tries to make a living, and Leora falls out of love with her hero.

Baruch was just another refusenik when Vladimir wrote an article calling him a Zionist and American spy for that was printed in Izvestia. Baruch spent the next thirteen years in Soviet prisons. His wife, Miriam, campaigned tirelessly to have him released. Baruch then went on to become a minister in the Israeli Knesset. As The Betrayers spin out the details of how Baruch and Leora came to be in Yalta, we learn that Baruch refused to assent to an operation that would lead to the destruction of Israeli settlements by Israeli soldiers. A man tries to blackmail him into changing his mind, threatening to expose his affair. Baruch refuses again, and flees to the Crimea with Leora.

As soon as they arrive, Leora and Baruch realize that they’ve made a mistake. What they hoped would be a week out of the spotlight, a little honeymoon, becomes anything but. Everyone in this book has betrayed someone. But will confronting one’s betrayer fix anything? Who is Baruch, or Leora, to grant forgiveness to anyone? The Betrayers is a short book, but it’s full of hard-to-answer questions.  

I received a free copy of this ebook from Edelweiss, in exchange for an honest review. It will be released 23 September 2014.

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