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A Pigeon and a Boy: A Novel [Kindle Edition]

Meir Shalev
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (79 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $15.95
Kindle Price: $9.99
You Save: $5.96 (37%)
Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

From the internationally acclaimed Israeli writer Meir Shalev comes a mesmerizing novel of two love stories, separated by half a century but connected by one enchanting act of devotion.

During the 1948 War of Independence--a time when pigeons are still used to deliver battlefield messages--a gifted young pigeon handler is mortally wounded. In the moments before his death, he dispatches one last pigeon. The bird is carrying his extraordinary gift to the girl he has loved since adolescence. Intertwined with this story is the contemporary tale of Yair Mendelsohn, who has his own legacy from the 1948 war. Yair is a tour guide specializing in bird-watching trips who, in middle age, falls in love again with a childhood girlfriend. His growing passion for her, along with a gift from his mother on her deathbed, becomes the key to a life he thought no longer possible. 

Unforgettable in both its particulars and its sweep, A Pigeon and A Boy is a tale of lovers then and now--of how deeply we love, of what home is, and why we, like pigeons trained to fly in one direction only, must eventually return to it.  In a voice that is at once playful, wise, and altogether beguiling, Meir Shalev tells a story as universal as war and as intimate as a winged declaration of love.

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. In this stunning tale, Shalev masterfully interweaves two remarkable personal stories. Yair Mendelsohn, a middle-aged Israeli tour guide favored with bird watchers, learns that one of his new American clients fought in the Palmach, a clandestine military force in Israel's 1948 war of independence. The American recounts a day when a homing pigeon handler, nicknamed the Baby for his childlike features, was killed in that war and, in his final moments, sent off one last pigeon. Yair is familiar with the American's story and listens with wistfulness. As Yair slowly tells of his present and his past, Shalev patiently builds tension around the Baby's final dispatch, giving vivid detail on homing pigeons and conveying the unique relationship between the birds and their keepers—which echoes the touching care with which the Baby and his true love, the Girl, treat one another. The dark, stocky Yair, whose marriage is threatened by his burgeoning relationship with childhood friend Tirzah, makes a sympathetic protagonist. This gem of a story about the power of love, which won Israel's Brenner Prize, brims with luminous originality. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Meir Shalev is one of Israel’s most celebrated novelists. Although less well known in the United States, the critically acclaimed A Pigeon and a Boy, which won Israel’s prestigious Brenner Prize, should introduce Shalev to a much wider audience. Intertwining two love stories with Israel’s fight for independence, the novel offers a compelling portrait of Israel’s period before statehood to the present day. With homing pigeons as a recurring motif, Shalev explores themes of home, memory, and survival—for the birds, a people, and a nation. Despite critics’ overall praise, some faulted the characterizations of Baby and Yair and the obvious connections between the two tales; The Miami Herald noted the absence of any mention of the Palestinians’ Nakba, or "Catastrophe." Few voices, however, capture Israel’s complexities as gracefully as Shalev’s.
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1068 KB
  • Print Length: 321 pages
  • Publisher: Schocken; Reprint edition (December 24, 2008)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #229,381 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
86 of 89 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What Chagall is to Paint January 25, 2008

The feeling I had when reading a Pigeon and a Boy by Meir Shalev that I had entered the world of a Chagall painting. In fact, what Chagall is to paint, Shalev is to words.

First they both create intense, detail-packed scenes.
Marc Chagall wastes no space as every square inch of his canvas is filled with vibrant and powerful colors and detail. A Marc Chagall painting is a feast for the eyes. These details makes the extraordinary events more plausible. Shalev's rich sensory details allow the reader not only to see, but to touch, taste and hear and fully enter the scene. The story of one of the main characters, The Baby, starts:
That day began as many other's in the baby's life, with his eyes opening as always before those of the other children. With his skin feeling the coolness and warmth of the air....With his ears listening to the male pigeons squabbling on the roof, their nails scraping the drainpipes, the hands of the woman in charge of the kibbutz children's house toiling in the small kitchen. With his nose smelling that the porridge is already cooking there, the margarine softening, the jam reddening in little dishes."

For Shalev memory is a close up lens of details: the young woman who's knees never stopped jiggling, the taste of pickles, his mother's wide brimmed yellow hat, the doctor dipping cookie after cookie into lemon and tea, his brother skipping from rock to rock while he plodded along, the smell of hot dust, the blue handkerchief that is used for tears of joy and loss. Shalev writes:
There are some people whose sensory organs capture reality for them. But with me, my sensory organs mediate between reality and memory, and not every organ in its realm.
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28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A slow, soaring read December 1, 2007
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is the kind of book you want to read slowly, to savour every word, and long for it not to finish. Meir Shalev's beautifully crafted book, with its flowing, evocative language, masterfully translated by Evan Fallenberg, consists of two ingeniously interwoven tales of people a generation apart, linked by places and events. One is a first person narrative of an adult tour-guide yearning for affection and a place he can consider 'home', and the other a touching story of the love between two teenagers, whose main channel of communication is through the homing-pigeons they send back and forth for the Hagana, the underground movement struggling against British rule in pre-State Israel. Through the intertwined tales, artfully tied up in the final denouement, the reader subtly gains insight into the handling of homing-pigeons and the tense days leading up to the War of Independence. The slight suspension of credibility called for here and there in the book only serve to enrich the sensitive flow of a wonderful story. Not to be missed!
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31 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece of beautiful writing November 4, 2007
A masterpiece of two woven stories, the love story between two pigeon handlers in the period prior to Israel's War of Independence framed and intersected by that of a tour guide specializing in bird watching who learns the details of the tale from one of his guests.

In this unlikely subject, the reader is treated to learning the habits and handling of homing pigeons that served as reliable means of communication during the British Mandate of the land of Israel until 1948.

It is hard to do this story justice with a synopsis or a review. The power of the novel is in the crafting of the tale as it unfolds, with the main characters--although beautifully detailed--remaining nameless but for their functions as pigeon handlers. Not so the tour guide, whose life is unraveling before it is put together again with a new love.

A great book selection for a book group, as it covers several interesting issues to discuss.

Talia Carner, author,
Puppet Child and China Doll
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars novel takes wing November 29, 2007
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
All novels about Israel fascinate me. This one intrigued me because of the rhythm of each sentence, and therefore, kudos to the translator. The parallel stories intertwine and the narrative is not lost because of it, as in so many other novels using flashback technique. The ending was so poetic, so indicative of the lengths to which one must go to survive in a land that has a precarious topography, the joy of discovering love and unexpected friendship, the land of women alongside the men/boys they admire, the willingness to share and provide support - these stimulated my mind. Every character stood out for me, and I would love to divulge the ending, but that would spoil it for a reader. This book has a mystique that resonates. Hardship and love, and not a 'pat' love story at all - uniquely told, immersing the reader in every page, and lingering afterward.
I suppose you'd say I enjoyed this tale, where the battle is the background, the war between palestine and israel is not the centerpoint, and the reader is not embroiled in the brutality. It is the people who leap from the page.
I am reminded of Masha Hamilton's novels about the Middle East and her ability to evoke the essence of the land and the people, wshether Israeli or Arab.
A Pigeon and a Boy: A Novel
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Very moving and inspirational
Published 18 days ago by Miriam Weiner
5.0 out of 5 stars best fiction I've read in a very long time
This is the best fiction I've read in a very long time. Beautifully constructed characters, metaphors--true literature. Read more
Published 1 month ago by chana
5.0 out of 5 stars Intense love happens to his characters but that doesn't mean at ...
Shalev knows that life has to be lived. Intense love happens to his characters but that doesn't mean at the right time, with the right person and with a happy end. Read more
Published 1 month ago by tineke
5.0 out of 5 stars spellbinding
This was a multi layered book weaving past and present together. Two love stories, a bit of mysticism, and a new knowledge of homing pigeons. I loved this book
Published 2 months ago by Janis koch
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved reading it and enjoyed every descriptive word in the ...
Masterpiece from an Israeli author. Loved reading it and enjoyed every descriptive word in the book. Hope to read his other books.
Published 2 months ago by ribbit
5.0 out of 5 stars Was an excellent book. Well written and full of twists
Was an excellent book. Well written and full of twists.
Published 3 months ago by Cane owner
5.0 out of 5 stars Too good to read
Too good to read...
Published 3 months ago by ilana berner
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 3 months ago by David M. Mirro
3.0 out of 5 stars Difficult to read
The story is compelling but this translation has so many punctuation, grammar and spacing errors that it is difficult to read.
Published 6 months ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
A tender story. Enjoyable
Published 7 months ago by Marian Israel
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