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The Betrayers

by David Bezmozgis

Hard to put this one down. Set in Crimea, shortly before its annexation by Ukraine, an Israeli dissident has fled to Yalta with his young mistress to avoid a scandal. There he re-encounters the KGB agent who betrayed him years before and caused his imprisonment in the Gulag. A gripping story of two old men who are confronted by their past. An insight into the plight of Russian Jews and the politics of the Middle East. Certainly makes you think!

Extract

A movement in the window drew his eye and Kotler turned from the black absorption of the mountains. Faster than a thought, his knees buckled, responding to an overwhelming impulse to drop to the ground, to get out of sight. Kotler caught himself, and stood rigidly, his knees still slightly and comically bent. Blood battered his heart as if to dislodge it. The fear was one he'd not known in untold years. Framed in the window was a man, Svetlana's husband, arrested by some worry or introspection, his profile presented to Kotler. Kotler's thoughts swirled, sense convoluted with nonsense. He knew that the man could not see him. He knew the year was 2013 and that the Soviet Union no longer existed, but he felt the cold menace of the KGB, sensed the nearness of his old tormentors. He knew he was an Israeli citizen, a husband and father, a dissident champion, but he felt isolated and vulnerable, helpless to stave off the horror.

Parallels

The Sacrifice by Adele Wiseman
The Free World by David Bezmozgis
 

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