Two years ago, Judi Dench was nominated for an Academy Award for her performance as a menacing English schoolmarm turned stalker in Notes on a Scandal. The movie was based on a novel by Zoë Heller, who has made her mark creating unkind protagonists. In her new novel, The Believers, she’s done it again.
The Believers follows the Litvinoffs, a family of New York Jewish radicals whose patriarch, Joel, falls into a coma. Left to settle his affairs is Audrey, his angry British-born wife, and their three children—Rosa, Karla, and Lenny.
As the Litvinoffs variously cling to and thwart one another, Heller probes the belief systems—political, religious, and familial—her characters rely upon to understand themselves and the world around them.
Zoë Heller photo: Sigrid Estrada.