Synopses & Reviews
When radical New York lawyer Joel Litvinoff is felled by a stroke, his wife, Audrey, uncovers a secret that forces her to reexamine everything she thought she knew about their forty-year marriage. Joel's children will soon have to come to terms with this discovery themselves, but for the meantime, they are struggling with their own dilemmas and doubts.
Rosa, a disillusioned revolutionary, has found herself drawn into the world of Orthodox Judaism and is now being pressed to make a commitment to that religion. Karla, a devoted social worker hoping to adopt a child with her husband, is falling in love with the owner of a newspaper stand outside her office. Neer-do-well Lenny is living at home, approaching another relapse into heroin addiction.
In the course of battling their own demons and one another the Litvinoff clan is called upon to examine long-held articles of faith that have formed the basis of their lives together and their identities as individuals. In the end, all the family members will have to answer their own questions and decide what if anything they still believe in.
Hailed by the Sunday Times (London) as "one of the outstanding novels of the year," The Believers explores big ideas with a light touch, delivering a tragic, comic family story as unsparing as it is filled with compassion.
"Heller (What Was She Thinking?; Notes on a Scandal) puts to pointed use her acute observations of human nature in her third novel, a satire of 1960s idealism soured in the early 21st century. Audrey and Joel Litvinoff have attempted to pass on to their children their lefty passions despite Audrey's decidedly bourgeois attitude and attorney Joel's self-satisfied heroism, including the defense of a suspected terrorist in 2002 New York City. When Joel has a stroke and falls into a coma, Audrey grows increasingly nasty as his secrets surface. The children, meanwhile, wander off on their own adventures: Rosa's inherited principles are beleaguered by the unpleasant realities of her work with troubled adolescents; Karla, her self-image crushed by Audrey, has settled into an uncomfortable marriage and the accompanying pressure to have children; and adopted Lenny, the best metaphor for the family's troubles, dawdles along as a drug addict and master manipulator. Though some may be initially put off by the characters' coldness the Litvinoffs are a severely screwed-up crew readers with a certain mindset will have a blast watching things get worse." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Heller creates characters who are defiantly unlovable. Throughout, the novel has a refreshing dryness, a tart economy with words that suits its subjects." Seattle Times
"Heller writes with insight and honesty about the pain involved in testing one's beliefs and the possibility of growth in the process." Library Journal
"[C]aptures those frozen-in-time moments that create a family, for better or for worse." Booklist
“Tough, wise and funny. . . . A sustaining, intelligent novel about how the big questions affect and change all our small lives.” Anne Enright, author of The Gathering
“Profoundly satisfying. . . . Heller injects that difficult-to-pinpoint something-or-other that elevates soap opera to art. . . . The Believers pulses with . . . something deep and lasting and larger than mere story.” Lionel Shriver, author of The Post-Birthday World
“A beautiful, oftentimes hilarious, razor-precise portrait of a family, a city, and an examination of the eternal and universal urge to embrace something, anything, greater than ourselves.” Richard Price, author of Lush Life
“A moving, deeply intelligent look at intellectual loyalties-to ideology, religion, family-and the humans attached to them. This is a wonderful novel.” Joseph O'Neill, author of Netherland
The highly anticipated new novel from the author of the acclaimed What Was She Thinking? is a rich, comic chronicle of one family's struggles with the consolations of faith and the trials of doubt.
“[Zoe Heller] is an extraordinarily entertaining writer, and this novel showcases her copious gifts, including a scathing, Waugh-like wit.”—New York Times
Best-selling author Zoe Heller has followed up the critical and commercial success of What Was She Thinking? Notes on a Scandal with another tour-de-force on the meaning of faith, belief, and trust: The Believers. Tragic and comic, witty and intense, The Believers is the story of a dysfunctional family forced by tragedy to confront their own personal demons. In the vein of Claire Messud and Zadie Smith, Zoe Heller has written that rare novel that tackles the big ideas without sacrificing page-turning readability.
About the Author
Zoë Heller is the author of Everything You Know and What Was She Thinking? Notes on a Scandal, which was short-listed for the Man Booker Prize and made into an acclaimed film starring Cate Blanchett and Judi Dench. Heller lives in New York.