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Review: The Betrayers

July 2, 2015

The Betrayers

Soviet Jew Baruch Kotler takes an unpopular stand and his opponents publish some compromising photos of him to retaliate – photos of him with his much younger mistress.  The photos really don’t prove anything except the fact that he’s having an affair but he and his mistress run away to Yalta anyway.  Unbelievably, he runs across an old nemesis there – a man who was responsible for sending him to a Gulag years before.

I read some wonderful reviews of The Betrayers by David Bezmozgis so decided to pick it up and while I thought the story and the storytelling were fascinating, I struggled with the book.  You see, Bezmozgis chose not to use quotation marks or even italics to denote dialogue, instead he used an em dash before any conversation and it drove me to distraction.  Since there was never any indication of who was speaking, I sometimes had to stop and go back to try to figure it out and I found it pulled me out of the story.  So, in the end, I liked the book but didn’t love it.  Don’t go by me, though, a lot of people who are smarter than I am have loved this book.  Give this one a try if you like political fiction.

Review copy provided by Hachette Books. I am an Indiebound Affiliate.

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16 Comments leave one →
  1. July 2, 2015 6:23 am

    Political fiction, hmmm, dunno

  2. July 2, 2015 6:52 am

    Oh, I hate that writing style…I have read some authors who write like that, and usually never pick up another thing they write! LOL

  3. July 2, 2015 6:54 am

    I like political fiction but that em dash would drive me nuts too.

  4. July 2, 2015 7:28 am

    I find the lack of quotation marks a huge distraction so I’d probably skip this one. I’ve read at least two other novels that lacked them. Why does an author do that?

  5. July 2, 2015 7:30 am

    Lack of quotation marks is one of my pet peeves, but I can get past it for a really good story. I’m afraid the em dash would drive me to distraction though, too.

  6. July 2, 2015 7:33 am

    I hate confusion over dialogue!

  7. July 2, 2015 8:41 am

    I think I’d get a headache trying to read this book so I’ll pass.

  8. July 2, 2015 9:13 am

    That would confuse me too!

  9. Patty permalink
    July 2, 2015 9:46 am

    I just read a book using that system and it was really annoying…this book does not have my name on it…just saying that name would make me crazy!

  10. July 2, 2015 4:03 pm

    I have to have a rhythm to those kinds of conversations without quotation marks, and if I can’t tell who is talking after a while, then that gets on my nerves.

  11. July 2, 2015 6:34 pm

    This sounds like it has an interesting premise. I can see how the writing style might pull you out of the narrative. I sometimes have that issue with italics, if it is used frequently.

  12. July 4, 2015 6:01 am

    Well, I’ve mostly gotten over that problem with not using quotation marks for dialog. Now, I’m not at all interested in political fiction, but I really enjoyed this book. You can read my review here. http://drchazan.blogspot.com/2014/10/protections-and-professions.html

  13. July 5, 2015 9:54 pm

    Well, since I am not smarter than you are I think I can safely skip this one!

  14. July 5, 2015 10:29 pm

    Books with this writing style are tricky reads, and I’m definitely not smarter than you so I’m sure I would struggle with it too! Maybe audio would be the way to go here.

  15. bookingmama permalink
    July 6, 2015 2:36 pm

    I remember this one!!!! I thought it was interesting but I did have some issues with following the dialogue.

  16. July 7, 2015 7:05 pm

    although I’m a fan of political fiction, I’m not a fan of having to work hard to read it! Thinking I will test out the audio version of this one

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