Friday, July 28, 2017

David Bezmozgis - The Betrayers (Penguin, 2014) **

Israeli politician Baruch Kotler flees from his country with his young lover Leora to the Crimea, where, by accident, he meets the KGB officer who once betrayed him when he was a Soviet resident, sending him to the gulag so many decades ago. They had already rented a room at his betrayer's place, so they stay locked up in the same space for much of the novel.

The novel is about betrayal, and as Vladimir betrayed Baruch so many decades ago, so does Kotler himself feel to be a betrayer, not only to his wife but also to his country. But is also about being Jewish in modern times, even if non-religious, about the state of Israel, about zionism.

Even if the overall concept of the novel and the plot are good, and even the writing is not bad, the overall impression is one of a missed opportunity. The tension never goes really deep, and maybe too many questions are answered, especially the place of 'jewishness' is a little too preachy for the non-jew that I am.

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