Sunday, November 9, 2014

Review: "The Betrayers" by David Bezmozgis

For my last official book of the year, I wasn’t expecting a masterpiece or something I would enjoy greatly, since I have never been one to experience life in that sort of way, but I wasn’t expecting the book, David Bezmozgis’ second novel, The Betrayers, to be as plain and boring as it was. It is easily my most disappointing book released this year, sharing that dubious honor with Scott Cheshire’s High as the Horses’ Bridle. There really isn’t anything new or unique about the book, despite blurbs on the back and inside of the book from trusted sources like Gary Shetyngart and Joshua Ferris. It is a derivative piece, trying to imitate the best of Bernard Malamud and Philip Roth, and in doing so, never tries to carve out it’s own, original place in modern literature, and ultimately just fills a the niche of a maudlin, slightly funny tale of Jewish identity. The main character, Baruch Kotler, is a high-ranking Israeli politician finds his illicit affair with a much younger woman revealed when he fails to side with the majority of his peers. He flees the country with his mistress, and finds himself back in Crimean resort Yalta, where he finds himself reacquainted with his tumultuous past, including the person who sent him to the Russian Gulags. As I said before, this book doesn’t offer much. With the exception of the opening scene which takes place in a restaurant and goes to show what an overbearing jerk Baruch can be, this book seemed like a total waste, and even with its short 225 page length, way longer than it needed to be. I read Bezmozgis’ first novel The Free World and found it all right but forgettable; this book isn’t even that good, and I’m thinking Bezmozgis’ might be one of our most overrated writers.

Rating: 2/5

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