The Betrayers – David Bezmozgis


“Svetlana, you may not believe it, but I harbor no ill will towards your husband.  So it is not even a matter of forgiveness.  I hold him blameless.  I accept that he couldn’t have acted differently any more than I could have acted differently.  This is the primary insight I have gleaned from life: The moral component is no different from the physical component – a man’s soul, a man’s conscience, is like his height or the shape of his nose.  We are all born with inherent propensities and limits.  You can no more be reviled for your character than for your height.  No more reviled than revered.”

There’s a very strong possibility that I’m starting to feel reading fatigued.  The first portion of this book is very political, and it took me a while to really get a grasp of what’s going on – I’m not very familiar with what is happening in Crimea, or about Russian Zionists, so I had to work a little harder to get an understanding of what was going on.

What really resonated with me in this book was the morality issue of if a man is in the wrong if he is just doing his job.  The main characters hold ill will to this other man who was a KGB informant, but this man became a KGB informant to save his brother, and only acted according to his job.  So then who do you hold ill will to after being imprisoned for 13 years as a result of being informed on by this man – the man himself, the institution, or blame yourself?

I learned a few new words reading this book, largely Yiddish and Jewish words.  My boyfriend read this book before me (it’s his copy I borrowed) and he was reading it while we were camping this summer, and I remember him asking me if I knew what any of these words meant.  I’m not sure if I really know now, but it’s always nice to pretend to learn something new.

Books read: 18


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