Fiction pick by Jean-Louis
Shortlisted for the 2014 Scotiabank-Giller Prize, The Betrayers is the story of Baruch Kotler, a recently disgraced Israeli politician. Faced with a personal scandal, Baruch has fled Israel with his girlfriend and they have come to Yalta in the Crimea. Little does he know who he will encounter there. What he finds there is his past and this in turn leads Baruch to face both the present and his future.
Yalta and the Crimea of course, are very much in the news at this time as it has been the site of Russian-Ukrainian aggression and capitulation. What has played out on the sociopolitical stage this year also forms the heart of this finely drawn novel. When we come face to face with past wrongs and transgressors we also must face up to our full range of moral dilemmas. Bezmozgis has crafted a wonderful character study in Baruch Kotler and also sheds light on the historical traitor who sent Kotler to the Russian Gulag. This is a novel worth reading both for its insights into the interplay between Russia, Ukraine, and Israel and for its investigation into the human heart.