A Pigeon and a Boy
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A Pigeon and a Boy

3.95 of 5 stars 3.95  ·  rating details  ·  1,296 ratings  ·  216 reviews
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,...more
Hardcover, 312 pages
Published October 16th 2007 by Schocken (first published 2006)
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The Blue Mountain by Meir ShalevA Tale of Love and Darkness by Amos OzSee Under by David GrossmanThe Zigzag Kid by David GrossmanTo the End of the Land by David Grossman
Best Israeli Reads
6th out of 52 books — 35 voters
Past Continuous by Yaakov ShabtaiA Tale Of Love And Darkness by Amos OzSee Under by David GrossmanThe Blue Mountain by Meir ShalevA Pigeon and a Boy by Meir Shalev
Translations from Hebrew
5th out of 56 books — 10 voters

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Tamara Silver
This book is about home. About how your home houses more that your body, but also your soul. Some of us live in the wrong home all of our lives and some of us are lucky to find the perfect fit. It is also about undying, deep, aching, love. And pigeons, yes, you will learn about carrier (homing - get it?!) pigeons. It has moments of beauty and jewels of phrases. Here is one of my favorites: The ground, which here is not corseted with cement and straitjacketed with asphalt, shifts in a slow, never...more
Forgive me for showing off a little -- I'm actually reading this in the original Hebrew. I know it was entirely unnecessary for me to point that out, but I'm excited about my new quest to improve my Hebrew literacy. Also, I wanted to let you know in advance that it will take me a long time to post my review!

Ok -- here's my review. Reading this book was an interesting experience, on a variety of levels. When you read in a foreign language and you find yourself criticizing the book, it's not alway...more
I read this book in a Contemporary Jewish Literature class, and was lucky enough to go hear Shalev speak while in the middle of reading the novel. He was a very funny, interesting guy, and this is a very entertaining, interesting book. I really enjoyed reading it and zoomed right through it. The somewhat low 3-star rating I gave it is for the feeling I got after finishing the book -- that is, a feeling if disconnection. The book is made up of two narratives, both of which are beautifully written...more
I throughly enjoyed this novel, which jumps back and forth between 1948 Israeli independence battles and the present, with much about carrier-pigeons and ordinary birds. It is very much a (very confusing) love story, with some magical realism here and there but not enough to drive me crazy.
Feb 08, 2012 Judy rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: everyone who loves beautiful prose
Recommended to Judy by: Naomi Jensen
This is an absolutely beautiful story from beginning to end. The prose is gorgeous and captivating, allowing the reader to thoroughly feel the setting and the emotions. The story takes place in two time periods, present day Israel and pre-1948 war Palestine. It isn't clear from the start how the two stories will come together, but I never found it confusing or difficult that two stories were being told. When it does all come together, it is in a very satisfying way. The more modern story involve...more
Talia Carner
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 s...more
Carol Feldman
I was living in Israel the first time I read a borrowed copy of this. I loved it and bought a copy of it for myself only to give it away as a gift to someone who never opened it.

I love this book. I could taste the olives, feel the hot air, hear the distinctive voices of the characters and underneath, feel the cruelty of war and the necessity of belonging.
Usually, the books I love are ones I can't put down, but A Pigeon and a Boy was different. I read it slowly and over time. Even with the transl...more
It is a beautifully written story about first love. However, it is much more than that. It is a book about a home, not a house, but a home which takes on many different meanings in the story. It is a home which pigeons know how to find and fly to which is incredible by itself, especially when coupled with images of Israel. It is also a home for our first love which most people have in their heart and carry through life. It is a home where we want to feel unconditionally loved and accepted. It is...more
Jun 10, 2011 Lisa rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lisa by: C21st Fiction
A Pigeon and a Boy is a love story really, but not like any you’ve read before. It takes place during the Israeli War of Independence in 1948 and the present. There are links between the two but it would ruin the book for readers to explain what they are. Suffice to say that Yair Mendelsohn, the central character, makes a life-changing decision to make a home of his own and in the quest to find his own identity makes some interesting discoveries about himself and his family. Yair, whose father w...more
From the description, this sounded like a lovely book, but it was a big disappointment for me. It took a long time for the story to get started and there were very few characters that I would call likeable. In fact, the main character, Yair, was extremely un-likeable. There were also some parts of the story that defied belief. I did like the parts about caring for the homing pigeons. Thought there was far, far too much detail about house renovations. I did like the way the two threads tied toget...more
I love love love Meir Shalev. I can't think of a book of his that I didn't like (I hear Fontanela is not as good, but haven't read it), and this one is no exception.
All his books show a deep love and connection with Israel, and I mean the good old idealistic Israel, not the Big Bowl of Crazy it has become. He knows how to write people, and his women especially are very well written.
Like all his books, this one takes a few pages before it draws you in, but once it does it is a very interesting...more

I just finished reading the incredible novel, A Pigeon and a Boy, by Meir Shalev. I purchased this book last week, and put it on the top of my tall stack of books to read. After reading the jacket, I decided it was a book I wanted to read, and must read, immediately. The book didn’t disappoint me in the least, in fact I was quite surprised, emotionally overwhelmed and amazed at the content and how it affected me.

I am still wrapped in the emotional aftermath from reading this incredible story of...more
Melissa Standley
This is a beautiful novel--I really can't emphasize enough how gorgeous it is. I bought it for my birthday the year before I left South Carolina.

A Pigeon and a Boy gives readers a look at regular life in Israel during its War of Independence and at regular life in Israel now. The novel starts in the present-day and then flashes back to before the main character, Yair, was born. It tells the story of how his parents met and the miracle of his birth.

Then the story flashes forward again to the pr...more
This is an interweaving of two story lines into one. A tale of a young man and a young woman who each care for pigeons in the time before Israel's independence. The pigeons are used to deliver messages during the war. It's also the story of a man seemingly in a mid-life crisis who finds an old house, buys it, and then renovates it with the help of the woman he'd loved as a young boy.
I found myself confused in the beginning as the book went back and forth between the two times and the two stori...more
This book is composed of two narrative threads, one of which was gorgeous and made me bawl a couple of times on the subway. The other seemed kind of half-baked, in terms of both character and plot. (And the way they connect - i.e., the spoon and the syringe thing - is also kind of... huh? Was that necessary?) I'm not sure why Shalev didn't just stick with the homing pigeon narrative - maybe he was afraid that readers would be turned off by a pure history lesson/fairy tale so he decided to couch...more
The book became more compelling as it appeared that the two separate threads would come together. It was not hard to see where the book was going. Some parts of it are rather surreal. And some parts are rather unbelievable. But it was well-told despite some errors in translation and some in proofreading.

I got to like some of the characters a great deal, especially Meshulam who provided a comic touch in his way. Although birds, Israel, and the 1948 war are featured, one does not need to have any...more
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 survi

My sister suggested this book to me and I liked it. But it's a good example of why I never recommend a book until I have finished the last page. I didn't like or understand the ending, although I appreciated that the author tied up the loose threads of all the characters in true Dickensian fashion.

The book is about the meaning of home to homing pigeons, people, and Israel. It is full of fascinating details about the use of homing pigeons, especially in the war against the British that led to the...more
Wendy Brown-Baez
Since I lived in Israel for three years during the first Intifada, anything that brings it vividly to mind is compelling reading to me. At first I didn't think I would be that interested in carrier pigeons, especially all the details of how to take care of them and train them but I found myself captivated by this book. The same for the lengthy descriptions of the house renovations at the end...the multitude of boring details interspersed with the personal journey to find one's home nevertheless...more
Beautifully told story, I loved it.
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...more
Rachelle Urist
This is the first book I've read by Meir Shalev. I'll read more. He's a master. His description of bird-watching and, in particular, of the care and flights of homing pigeons, is deeply engaging. The book follows two stories whose strains have parallels. When suddenly the two stories become one, I gasped. The novel is about love and loss, and the homing pigeons who occupy a central place in the book, teach us about love and fidelity. Those who care for these pigeons are as devoted to the pigeons...more
And suddenly, above that hell, the fighters saw a pigeon. Born from bulbs of smoke, delivered from shrouds of dust, the pigeon rose, she soared. Above the grunts and the shouts, above the whisper of shrapnel in the chill of the air, above the invisible paths of bullets, above the exploding grenades and the barking rifles and the pounding cannons.

The story of the meaning of home, is one that we all hold dear. Given that Meir Shalev is a Jewish author writing a novel about Israel, that concept...more
«Shalev es un narrador magistral que ha escrito una historia delicada y que sabe abrazar a sus personajes con cariñoso sentido del humor.»
Suddeutsche Zeitung

«Una historia sobre la búsqueda del amor perdido.»
The New York Times

«Shalev demuestra que las almas también pueden curarse y revivir.»
Miami Herald

«Una inteligente sinfonía sobre la patria, el hogar y la identidad.»
Frankfurter Allgemeine

«Brillante… universal en su alcance y en la revisión del anhelo humano de crear un hogar.»
The Jerusalem Pos...more
Sarah Goldberg
The things I like most about A Pigeon and a Boy are the excellent writing style, the intriguing story, and the believable characters. Some character personalities frustrated me, including that of the protagonist, but I appreciate the author's effort to show a realistic person instead of striving only to make him likeable.

Regarding several scenes of an intimate nature between certain characters, my personal taste when reading about them is: less is more. Shalev is an author does not shy away from...more
I wanted to read this book after hearing an interview with the author on the CBC program 'Writers and Company'. When it finally came to the top, I was sorry that it had taken so long. The pigeon in the title refers - I think - to a homing pigeon dispatch from a battle site during the Israel war of independence and the boy refers both to the young soldier who dispatched the pigeon as he was dying as well as another boy who is one of the main characters and narrator of much of the novel.

Part of ap...more
Het boek begint met het opvliegen van een duif en met de dood van ‘de baby’ tijdens de Israëlische Onafhankelijkheidsoorlog. Wie de baby was en waarom die duif daar boven dat oorlogsterrein opvloog, wordt gaandeweg het boek duidelijk.

En weer een boek waarin een huis soort van hoofdpersoon is. Het huis is van Ja’ier Mendelson. Omdat het huis waarin hij met zijn rijke vrouw woont niet zijn huis is, gaat op aanraden van zijn moeder op zoek naar een eigen plek. Een huis waarnaar je graag terugkeert...more
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Ayelet Bender
A Pigeon and a Boy, is a Middle Eastern influenced novel which contrasts two time periods (past and present) incidentally creating a Parallel Universe. Meir Shalev uses strong symbolism in order to create an echo of a recurring concept in your mind throughout your reading of the book. His choice of symbolism, being a Pigeon, serves much historically as well as metaphorically. Although Shalev depicts many themes in this book, I would like to concentrate this review on Shalev's use of the Pigeon a...more
Michal Yitzhary
A Pigeon and a Boy is a heartwarming story of love, loss, and what it means to feel like you have a home. Yair, the main character tells the story of his search for a place of his own to his mom who passed away before she was able to see her son fulfill the dream she had for him. Wanting him to find a home, she gives him the money to buy a house that will be all his own and make him feel like he has a home, not just a house. He marries an American women named Liora who has a lot of money and liv...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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Meir Shalev is one of Israel’s most celebrated novelists. He has received many awards for his work, including the National Jewish Book Award and Israel’s Brenner Prize, both for A Pigeon and a Boy.

A columnist for the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth, Shalev lives in Jerusalem and in northern Israel with his wife and children.

More about Meir Shalev...
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“A woman has to look good, but a man—a little bit nicer looking than a monkey is enough.” 2 likes
“Mine is the tongue tied silence of awkwardness, hers the smiling silence of anticipation, and then we utter inanities to each other, like "beautiful weather arranged for us" and "I like these kind of clouds.” 1 likes
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