A Pigeon And A Boy
It is always a pleasure to read a good translation of well-regarded book by one of another country’s premier writers. Meir Shalev has been translated into twenty languages, and has won numerous international awards; it’s frustrating not to be able to read him in English within months of a novel’s publication. Most recently, his 2006 Brenner Prize winning novel, an international bestseller, has been translated as A Pigeon and a Boy.
The story sounds simple. A middle-aged man, Yair Mendelsohn, discovers the truth about his mother and the man she loved back in 1948, during Israel’s War of Independence. At another level, the novel is about loss and grieving: Yair’s mother has recently died. Yet again it is about truth, and finding one’s own truths. A satisfying read, this book is a multi-level, thoughtful examination of human relationships written in beautiful prose. Is it an amazing love story about Yair’s mother and the Boy? A Jacob and Esau story involving Yair and his brother Benjamin? As one reads the 1948 entries and then the modern entries, as one sees Yair grow as he discovers what truly happened, the novel also becomes a celebration of human determination in near-impossible circumstances.
And if you knew nothing about homing pigeons before you read this book, you will finish it a great deal wiser, and full of wonder. This is a novel which book groups could enjoy, discussing it at length and at all levels. But regardless of your taste for book groups, this novel is a stunning read that should be at the top of your wish list.