Elliot Ratzman's Reviews > The Believers

The Believers by Zoë Heller
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's review
Apr 30, 2012

really liked it
Read from February 01 to 28, 2010 — I own a copy

“We all do some hurtful shit in our lives from time to time…It’s part of what makes us human.” A limousine leftist family headed by a radical lawyer (based on Kunstler?) is thrown into turmoil by his untimely stroke and coma. He had said “self-contradiction is one of the occupational hazards of being an American progressive.” His wife, Audrey, is perhaps the nastiest knot of negativity I have ever encountered. Heller, the author of Notes on a Scandal, has ingeniously balanced the unbalanced turmoil of private injustice and public do-gooding in the New York left: they love humanity but hate each other. Is self-righteousness the flip-side of self-loathing? Rosa, the austere daughter disillusioned by Cuba, finds herself attracted to orthodox Judaism, rendered with astounding verisimilitude. Karla, married to a union organizer, questions her devotion to family. The father’s coma is one dark night of the soulless, where personal change is as elusive as social change—ah, but the fine ending!

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