David Bezmozgis: The Betrayers

(Fiction, 256 pp. 2015)

The Betrayers spans one momentous day in the life of powerful Israeli politician Baruch Kotler, a former Soviet refusenik. Fleeing to the Crimea in the wake of political pressure and blackmail, he unexpectedly comes face to face with the man who denounced him to the KGB forty years earlier.  In prose that is elegant, sly, precise, and devastating in its awareness of the human heart, David Bezmozgis has created a powerful morality tale for modern times that poses profound questions about ethics and forgiveness. Evoking biblical themes while casting attention to the plight of Jews in both Israel and Ukraine, it is both a timely and timeless book that will provoke lively discussion.

Reading group guide and a conversation with David Bezmozgis, produced by Little, Brown and Company

Guide to Jewish themes in The Betrayers from the Jewish Community Library

A listing from the Jewish Community Library of other books by Russian Jewish emigres

The Novel as Writerly Returning: a response to The Betrayers by Rabbi Aubrey L. Glazer of Congregation Beth Sholom, San Francisco


Arts Fuse by Harvey Blume

The Book Reader (video) by Bari Weiss of the Wall Street Journal

Boston Globe by Brock Clarke

Commentary by Marat Grinberg

Fashioning Fiction by Kelsey Manning

The Financial Times by Amy Waldman

The Guardian by Marcel Theroux

Haaretz by Shana Rosenblatt Mauer

The Independent by Barry Forshaw

J.:the Jewish newsweekly by Lyn Davidson

The Jewish Chronicle by David Herman

Kirkus Review

National Post by Philip Marchand

New Republic by Sasha Senderovich

New York Times by Boris Fishman

The Oregonian by Alexis Burling

Publishers Weekly

Tablet by Adam Kirsch

The Times of Israel by Renee Ghert-Zand

The Toronto Star by Emily Donaldson

The Wall Street Journal by Sam Sacks

Articles by David Bezmozgis and interviews about The Betrayers

The Novel in Real Time by David Bezmozgis in The New Yorker, March 2014

Interview with David Bezmozgis in The Observer, August 2014

Interview with David Bezmozgis in The Toronto Star, September 2014

The End of Jewish American Literature, Again in Tablet, September 2014

For David Bezmozgis, Fiction Must Go Far Beneath the Surface by Gal Beckerman in The Forward, October 2014

Suggested Articles, Essays, and Websites

Jewish History in Crimea

Before Crimea Was an Ethnic Russian Stronghold, It Was a Potential Jewish Homeland in Tablet, by Jeffrey VeidlingerMarch 2014

When Jews 'Colonized' Crimea, in Virtual Jerusalem, March 2014