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David Bezmozgis: The Betrayers

(Fiction, 256 pp. 2015)

The novel pans 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. Evoking biblical themes while casting attention to the plight of Jews in both Israel and Ukraine, The Betrayers poses profound questions about ethics and forgiveness.

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 Veidlinger, March 2014

When Jews ‘Colonized’ Crimea, in Virtual Jerusalem, March 2014

Photo exhibition on Jewish agricultural colonies and industrial schools in Ukraine and Crimea in 1920s and 1930s from JDC

Crimeafrom Jewish Virtual Library

Current Events in Crimea

Apprehension Grips the Crimean Jewish Community in Haaretz, March 2014

In Crimea, Some Jews Feel Safer After Russian Intervention, from Jewish Telegraphic Agency, March 2014

Crimea’s Sole Rabbi Advises Jews ‘Not to Become Targets in The Times of Israel, March 2014

Ukrainian Jews Split Over Russian Action in Crimea, in J Weekly, March 2014

Contemporary Russian Jewish Emigre Fiction

Russian Jewish American Lit Goes Boom! by Sasha Senderovich, in Tablet, June 2014

The Russification of Jewish-American Fiction by Andrew Furman, in Zeek, April 2008

The Ancestral Faith, With a Side of Salami by Boris Fishman in The Forward, October 2004

The Year of the Former Soviet Author by Yevgeniya Traps in The Forward, December 2014

Forgiveness in Judaism

The Limits of Forgiveness by Rabbi Gideon Sylvester in The Jewish Chronicle

Ask the Rabbis on forgiveness from Moment Magazine

King David

Bill Clinton’s “King David Defense” in Monica Lewinsky Scandal in The Forward, October 2014

King David as ‘Collage andKing David, ‘A VProblematic Characterery Problematic Character’ in The Jewish Week, September 2014

The Batsheba Syndrome: The Ethical Failure of Successful Leaders by Dean Ludwig and Clinton Longenecker