Barney’s Version

Penguin Modern Classics Edition

Publisher: Vintage Canada
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 Version is 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.


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...
Read More


1. Barney's Version is sectioned by Barney's three marriages. However, the novel does not recount the story of these marriages chronologically. In fact, Richler uses a meandering structure for the novel, a structure which in important ways mimics the pattern of Barney's increasingly muddled recollections. How did...

Read More


"A feast of nonstop storytelling, and arguably Richler's funniest book yet."—Maclean's favourite books of 1997

"[A] triumph ... at once hilarious, poignant, satiric and elegiac.... Barney's 30-year marriage to Miriam, their mutual love, and the two sons and one daughter they produce ... are the novel's heart and soul... Barney's Version has an embarrassment of riches ... woven here into a wantonly generous, seamless whole." —The Globe and Mail

"I couldn't put it down.... There is no other writer among us at the moment who can so deftly deploy pure dialogue to create such rich atmosphere of period and place.... In Barney's Version, the women are his finest achievement. This is wholly a wonderful novel.... By turns gripping, hilarious, ridiculous and even poignant." —The Montreal Gazette

"A rollicking novel laden with rue, a self- portrait of a creative personality who never found a creative outlet he could respect, a paean to the pleasures and perils of drink, a celebration of ice hockey and tap dancing, a lament for a multicultural Montreal now torn and depressed by Quebeçois separatism and a murder mystery with an uproarious solution." —New Yorker