This short novel by Bezmozgis is about one day in the life of Baruch Kotler a dissident Israeli politician that had emigrated from the Soviet Union years ago. His views on the Israeli West Bank settlements run contrary to the popular view of his contemporaries.
As a result, they attempt to ruin him and his reputation by exposing an affair he is having with a woman much younger than he is. In order to escape the notoriety the two escape to Yalta, the Crimean resort that Baruch is familiar with from his youth.
By a coincidence, they accept lodgings in the home of a man that had lied about Baruch years ago and caused him to be sent to the Gulag at that time. Kotler had spent years plotting a revenge against the man if they ever ran into each other again.
Bezmozgis brings us into the thoughts and emotions of both men when they meet after so many years. His doing so is a masterpiece of literary creation. They become alive in the author’s hand as do his enemy’s wife as well as the young lady traveling with Kotler.
Four people, with all the weaknesses and strengths that they have are brought to life and provide us with a brilliant picture of human emotion and reaction. Very well done.
10/14 Paul Lane
Little, Brown and Company (September 23, 2014). ISBN 978-0316284332. 240p.