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Barney's Version  
1st Canadian edition cover
Author Mordecai Richler
Cover artist John Scully (first edition photograph); Spencer Francey Peters (first edition design)
Country Canada
Language English
Genre(s) Novel
Publisher Knopf Canada (first edition, hardcover); Chatto and Windus (first U.K. edition, hardcover)
Publication date 16 Sept 1997 (Canada); 25 Sept 1997 (U.K.)
Media type Print (Hardcover)
Pages 417 pages (first edition, hardcover); 424 (first U.K. edition, hardcover)
ISBN ISBN 0-676-97078-8 (first edition, hardcover); 0-7011-6272-4 (first U.K. edition, hardcover)
OCLC Number 37195945
Preceded by Jacob Two-Two's First Spy Case
Followed by Dispatches from the Sporting Life

Barney's Version is a novel written by Canadian author Mordecai Richler, published by Knopf Canada in 1997.


Plot summary

The story is written in the style of an autobiography of Barney Panofsky, and recounts his life in varying detail. At the end of the book he is diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease, which explains his memory losses (corrected by his son Michael through the use of footnotes), and his repeatedly reminding himself of the name of the utensil used to strain spaghetti (a colander). Barney may be viewed as an unreliable narrator, in that his recollections go from lucid to ludicrous with his varying mental states, but he is only mistaken about minor things. Underlying the story of Barney's three marriages is the mysterious disappearance of his friend Boogie. Though there is no body, police suspect murder, and Barney himself is tried but acquitted of murder. The mystery is explained at novel's end.


  • Barney Panofsky - Main character, an English-speaking Jew from Montreal, going from struggling friend of artists in Paris to rich TV producer back in Quebec.
  • Bernard "Boogie" Moscovitch - Barney's best friend, whom he was judged innocent of murdering.
  • Terry McIver - Barney's friend turned sworn enemy. It is McIver's published memoirs that drive Barney to write his versions of events.
  • Miriam Greenberg - Barney's third wife, who leaves him for Blair. Barney always hopes that she will come back to him.
  • '"The Second Mrs. Panofsky" - Barney's shallow and verbose second wife, whose name we never learn, and who leaves Barney at the time of the disappearance of Boogie.
  • Clara Charnofsky - Barney's beautiful but mentally ill first wife, whom he met in Paris, and whose poetry from their time in Paris become best-selling feminist literature.
  • Leo Bishinsky - Barney's friend from Paris, who became a famed artist.
  • Cedric Richardson a.k.a. Ismail ben Yussf - Barney's rich, black friend from Paris.
  • Morty Herscovitch- Barney's doctor in Montreal.
  • Blair Hopper né Hauptman - A draft-dodging American who is taken in by the Panofskys and eventually becomes the partner of Barney's third wife, Miriam.
  • Hymie Mintzbaum - A movie producer friend of Barney's.
  • Sean O'Hearne - A Sûreté du Québec detective, certain Barney is guilty of Boogie's homicide.
  • Duddy Kravitz - A character who appeared originally in Richler's The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz and St. Urbain's Horseman, now a wealthy man in his sixties.

Film adaptation

After being in development for 12 years, a film based on Barney's Version is currently in production with Paul Giamatti in the title role. Richard J. Lewis is directing the film and Robert Lantos is producing.[1] Michael Konyves wrote the screenplay.[1] Filming will take place in Montreal, the Laurentians, Rome and New York. Dustin Hoffman has also recently signed on to the project, playing Barney's father.[2] Rosamund Pike, Minnie Driver and Rachelle Lefevre have also been cast as Barney's three ex-wives.[1] The cast also includes Scott Speedman, Bruce Greenwood, Macha Grenon,[3] Mark Addy, Maury Chaykin, Saul Rubinek, Jake Hoffman, Anna Hopkins, Cle Bennett and Harvey Atkin.[4] David Cronenberg, Atom Egoyan, and Paul Gross all make cameo appearances.[5]


External links



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