Man Booker Prize Longlist Part Four: Betrayal by Helen Dunmore

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Teaser Tuesday and Man Booker Prize Longlist, Part Four

Today's selection

Betrayal by Helen Dunmore

Leningrad in 1952, a city recovering from war. Andrei, a hospital doctor, and Anna, a nursery teacher, are forging a life together. They try to avoid coming to the attention of the authorities, but their private happiness is precarious. Stalin is still in power, and when Andrei has to treat the seriously-ill child of a senior secret police officer, he and Anna are caught  in a web of betrayal.

A gripping and deeply moving portrait of life in post-war Soviet Russia, The Betrayal brilliantly shows the epic struggle of ordinary people to survive in a time of violence and terror.


"Historians have written capably about the horror of Stalin's 1952 "Doctors' Plot", as they have written about the Siege of Leningrad which preceded it. But it takes the skill of a very superior novelist to make the unimaginable real. Dunmore is just such a novelist: brave, tender and with a unique gift for immersing the reader in the taste, smell and fear of a story. Writing like hers reminds us that human life is always more than just a statistic." -- Katy Guest, The Independent

"Unlike The Siege, which was essentially descriptive, The Betrayal relies for its effects on the characters and story Dunmore has made up. Her research is meticulous, and details of the workings of Soviet bureaucracy, hospital life and Leningrad in the 1950s are expertly stitched in... But the novel is not morally complicated. Everyone with whom we are encouraged to sympathise seems beyond reproach." -- Susanna Rustin, The Guardian

Helen Dunmore was born in Yorkshire in 1952. She has published eight novels including: Zennor in Darkness, which won the McKitterick Prize; A Spell of Winter, which won the Orange Prize; The Siege, which was shortlisted for the 2001 Whitbread Novel of the Year Award and for the Orange Prize for Fiction 2002; Mourning Ruby, House of Orphans and Counting the Stars. She is also a poet, children's novelist and short-story writer. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, and current Chair of the Society of Authors. She lives in Bristol.

Reading Group Alert -- parenting, history, cultural issues, war, relationships.


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