Barney's Version

Barney's Version

Book - 1997
Average Rating:
Rate this:
Ebullient and perverse, thrice married, Barney Panofsky has always clung to two cherished beliefs: life is absurd and nobody truly ever understands anybody else. But when his sworn enemy publicly states that Barney is a wife abuser, an intellectual fraud and probably a murderer, he is driven to write his own memoirs. Charged with comic energy and a wicked disregard for any pieties whatsoever,Barney's Versionis a brilliant portrait of a man whom Mordecai Richler has made uniquely memorable for all time. It is also an unforgettable love story, a story about family and the riches of friendship.
Publisher: Toronto: A.A. Knopf, 1997
ISBN: 9780676971743
Branch Call Number: F RIC
Characteristics: 417 p


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Apr 08, 2021

Mordecai Richler's tale where we, as the readers, cannot trust everything the protagonist says and must ourselves "Is Barney Panofsky outright lying, forgetting what happened, exaggerating for his own benefit, or telling us the honest-to-God truth?"

The novel isn't for everybody. Each chapter jumps all over the adult life of the crotchety, miserably insecure, curmudgeon of a TV producer that is Barney Panofsky. Tangents aren't rare either so some may have a hard time following the plot (or even conclude that there's no plot at all). You will need to search for the context clues in each chapter to figure out where and when it's happening. However, it thematically makes sense for the book to be written this way. The raison d'être for this fictional memoir is that Barney's sworn enemy, Terry McIver, is set to publish his own memoir that doesn't paint Panofsky in a favourable light. Thus, "Barney's Version" is a stream of consciousness reaction against his rival.

"Barney's Version" is a story about an unhappy old man whose memory is failing as he records his "wasted life" while living in Montréal during the Québec Independence Referendum of '95. All that we can truly believe is that Barney Panofsky felt that he never achieved anything of significance in his professional life and that his two greatest loves are the Habs and Miriam Greenberg.

Feb 18, 2020

Hilarious in parts, I love this guy's work. Richler tells a great story.

Mar 28, 2017

A politically incorrect memoir(fictional) of an insecure person recounting his life before the on set of dementia. Very satirical and at times witty. The narrative is a bit choppy to fit the premise of the book. Good characterizations even if most are not very likable. Probably more interesting if you over 40. Worth reading if you are interested.

Aug 28, 2015

How to make a film out of Mordecai Richler's book, Barney's Version? I think generally he would have approved. The cast was very attractive with Minnie Driver as the second Mrs P. and Dustin Hoffman as Barney's father, the Jewish New York cop.Paul Giamatti as Barney was ideal.The screen version would have to tone down the bite and punch of the book but the kinder softer version still has enough of the wit and humour to be very entertaining to watch.

Aug 28, 2015

This is not an easy book to read because it has been presented as though written through flashbacks by an elderly man with the onset of dementia. Barney has had a very colourful life and 3 wives. His son has supplied corrective footnotes to his father's text and provided the afterword prior to publication.It is well worth the concentration and perseverance required for the outrageously cynical humour, the total lack of pc , the raft of fascinating characters and Mordecai Richler's brilliant writing.For a quick study,the shorter, more easily digested version may be seen in the film. I much preferred the book.

WVMLStaffPicks Dec 07, 2014

Barney is an infuriating, loveable curmudgeon who has loved and lost three wives, possibly murdered his best friend and driven himself to drink. Wickedly funny, politically incorrect, Richler has created his most personable and passionate character yet.

StevenJonKaplan Jan 26, 2014

In my opinion, this is one of Mordecai Richler's best books, partly because you are encouraged to empathize with a character who has many serious flaws, and partly because the author deals with his own aging self.

Feb 09, 2012

Presented as a first-person memoir by the title character, Barney Panofsky, this book struck me as a bit uneven. Well-written and entertaining for the most part, the structure and lack of a plot made it slow at times. Barney has written this memoir to rebut claims about him made in an autobiography of a long-time rival and to present his version of his life. Although roughly chronological, there are many digressions to events and episodes throughout his life, and it can be difficult at times to figure out when a particular scene takes place. Two major threads running throughout the book are the fate of Barney's best friend "Boogie", whom Barney was acquitted of murdering, and Barney's longing for his third wife Miriam, who left him for another man and whom Barney still loves. <br><br>

Barney is a hard man to like. He's argumentative, frequently drunk, and deliberately antagonistic to many people in his life, but has a deeply buried good nature that he rarely displays. I found the tales of his early adulthood in Paris among the most engaging. <br<br>

This novel is probably not for everyone, but it is a solid literary accomplishment with a uniquely interesting protagonist with a genuine, original voice.

Feb 01, 2012

This is my first Richler book, I did not enjoy it much as the characters (main and supporting) were not likeable or transferable to myself, the reader. Though I thought the son's editing was an interesting twist on the reading aspect. Though I will check out the movie and see how it represents Mr. Richler's writing - though I will probably check out his book Duddy Kravitz and we will see how that goes.

Jul 16, 2011

Liked this book, start was slow and hard to follow, perhaps it was Barney's dementia. Richler is a superb writer and the twists of the plot were great. Sometimes the curmugeon aspects were hard to take but once I got past that I enjoyed the book. Looking forward to the movie.

View All Comments

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability

There are no age suitabilities for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number

Find it at RPL

To Top