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Barney's Version

Mordecai Richler's novel paints an unforgettable portrait of a man through a story about love, family and the riches of friendship.

Mordecai Richler

The unmistakable voice of Mordecai Richler comes to us in Barney's Version, a raunchy yet tender account of a 67-year-old man's look back over his life — a life that includes plenty of bad behaviour. Barney Panofsky believes only two things: that no one will ever understand anyone else and that life is absurd. When a series of events propels Barney to write his memoirs, what unfolds is a funny, frank and surprisingly touching portrait of one of CanLit's most iconic characters.

Barney's Version won the 1997 Scotiabank Giller Prize and was a Canada Reads 2004 finalist. It was defended by Zsuzsi Gartner.

Read an excerpt | Author interviews | More about this book

From the book

Terry's the spur. The splinter under my fingernail. To come clean, I'm starting on this shambles that is the true story of my wasted life (violating a solemn pledge, scribbling a first book at my advanced age), as a riposte to the scurrilous charges Terry McIver has made in his forthcoming autobiography: about me, my three wives, a.k.a. Barney Panofsky's troika, the nature of my friendship with Boogie, and, of course, the scandal I will carry to my grave like a humpback. Terry's sound of two hands clapping, Of Time and Fevers, will shortly be launched by The Group (sorry, the group), a government-subsidized small press, rooted in Toronto, that also publishes a monthly journal, the good earth, printed on recycled paper, you bet your life.


From Barney's Version by Mordecai Richler ©1997. Published by Knopf Canada.

Author interviews

Always outspoken and undeniably charismatic, the novelist discusses his prolific and profound career. 33:08
Richler chats about his career in conversation with Eleanor Wachtel. 21:20

More about this book