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A Pigeon and a Boy

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3.99  ·  Rating Details ·  2,158 Ratings  ·  292 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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Greta
A Pigeon and a Boy
A Pigeon and a Boy by Meir Shalev

Ja'ir is a tour guide in Israel, specialized in birdwatching tours. During a tour, he meets an old American jew who served in the Palmach and fought during the 1948 War of Independence in the battle at the San Simon Monastery.
The man tells him the story of a boy who got killed during this fight, but who released a pigeon before he died. The boy was a pigeon handler who kept and trained homing pigeons that belonged to the Haganah.

"Not a single gun fired, no grenades exploded,
...more
K
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
Talia Carner
Oct 06, 2011 Talia Carner rated it it was amazing
Shelves: jewish-fiction
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
Deyanne
Jun 25, 2016 Deyanne rated it really liked it
Recommended to Deyanne by: Liza and Tsung Wei
I don't quite know how to begin to describe my feelings after completing this book. During the "course" if you will of reading it, I savored each page for the subtleties of the descriptions and the masterful capturing of emotions. I read slowly. I reflected. I let the descriptions and the nuanced thinking seep in slowly to my being and my understanding. Yes, I pondered my own meaning of "home" in every sense-physical, spiritual and emotional. I appreciated the thoughts that this book generated. ...more
Tamara Silver
Apr 12, 2011 Tamara Silver rated it really liked it
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
Roger
Dec 25, 2007 Roger rated it liked it
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
Tsung Wei
Jun 24, 2016 Tsung Wei rated it really liked it
Errmm…. This is an amazing book except for one crucial event in the plot which was bizarre and unbelievable. I even found it rather disturbing. It is a shame really, because the rest of the book is very well written. So if you don’t mind just one stain, there are many things about the book to appreciate. If you do mind, then skip it.

It is not apparent at first, but the story is essentially about love and relationships. It starts with the release of a pigeon from a dying pigeon handler during 194
...more
Lorri

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
Dov Zeller
May 12, 2014 Dov Zeller rated it it was amazing
Shalev is a masterful storyteller and though I thought of rating this a four, a flawed book by Shalev is more brilliant than a thousand "perfect" books. So, I will say, there were a few things about this book that were a bit heavy-handed, and a few things frustrating and annoying. I'll get that out of the way though I won't go on about what I didn't like at this point, because I want to say what moved me.

This is a strange, lively, inquisitive story about home and not home, about finding a way to
...more
Sofia
Aug 18, 2013 Sofia rated it really liked it
Shelves: epic-love-story
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
Merilee
Jun 06, 2011 Merilee rated it really liked it
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.
Judy
Mar 07, 2009 Judy rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Candice
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
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
Rita
Jul 30, 2016 Rita rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wat kan die Shalev prachtige verhalen vertellen. Hij doseert precies goed humor, cynisme, mededogen ... Het laatste hoofdstuk is even raar en brengt je met beide benen op de grond, maar ja, we zijn allemaal enkel mieren in de wereldgeschiedenis, wat we ook beleven.
Timothy Cole
Why did I take so long to read this book? Actually, the real question is why did it take so long for me to finish this book since I read all but the last 30 pages in just the few days after receiving it. And I have an answer for that: I hate to finish anything that's good; I want the flavor to last. I eat my meals slowly, sometimes rewarming them (not in a microwave, though--that's sterilization). All my model planes remain in semi-finished condition; my fiction unresolved, well-developed plots; ...more
Suzanne
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
Rafael
Sep 30, 2014 Rafael rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: in-spanish
Es una historia que podría deleitar a los colombofilos y aquellos ornitologos, que descifran el comportamiento de todas las aves que migran y llegan a Israel. El personaje que cuenta es un guía que lleva a turistas para que avisten todo tipo de pájaros, grullas, patos, cigüeñas etc etc.
La relación casa-poseedor de la casa es casi un diálogo de amor, así mismo la creación de palomares que fueron usados por el Palmaj en la época anterior a la fundación del Edo. De Israel y durante la guerra de in
...more
Lisa
Jun 04, 2011 Lisa rated it liked it  ·  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
Michal
May 14, 2007 Michal rated it it was amazing
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
Milly Cohen
May 02, 2017 Milly Cohen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Por supuesto que tiene todas mis palmas (y estrellas!).
Es brillante, melancólico, romántico hasta el tuétano, una historia estupenda escrita estupendamente.
No en balde tiene tantos premios.
Le seguiré leyendo a Shalev.
Qué delicioso fue leerlo. Gracias Rafael.
(yo eliminaría el epílogo, lástima).
Stephanie
Jun 29, 2014 Stephanie rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Maria
Apr 11, 2012 Maria rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Chen
Aug 01, 2014 Chen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lobby-book-club
So this was an interesting experiment.
To rad an Israeli book in English.

It was great, but really, never again.
I spent too much time thinking "I bet this is what it was like in Hebrew" or wondering "What was it in Hebrew?"

If you *can* read a book in the original language, do so.
But my gut tells me this is not a bad translation at all.

Plus, considering I walked into my building one day, and found an Israeli translated book waiting for me in the lobby, or more accurately waiting for whomever got t
...more
Daniel Chaikin
May 09, 2014 Daniel Chaikin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Maybe if I understood this book a little bit better I would give it five stars. But for now I can only wonder about the various meanings of home and odd series of events at the end that require some rethinking. Maybe I should read it again.

Among the side effects here is a story of Israel's war of independence, and of the mixture and tensions that make up the Jewish side of modern Israel, and of homing pigeons and death and generations and relationships and sex and various explorations of the me
...more
Sarah
Jun 13, 2013 Sarah rated it liked it
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
Kimmay
Dec 21, 2007 Kimmay rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Hermien
Sep 25, 2011 Hermien rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hebrew, middle-east
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
Melissa Standley
May 10, 2010 Melissa Standley rated it it was amazing
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
Renée
Aug 04, 2014 Renée rated it really liked it
Prachtig verhaal of eigenlijk twee verhalen, die in zekere zin maar niet bijzonder sterk met elkaar samenhangen. Onvoorspelbaar plot, en met name heel-erg-sterk beschreven in beeldtaal.

De enige momenten dat ik toch mijn wenkbrauw optrok was richting het einde. Hoofdpersoon1 vermoord een duif? Ok? Kan er wel iets bij voorstellen gezien zijn achtergrond als bastaardzoon van een gesneuvelde duivenmelker, maar vond het veel te sterk aangezet, ongeloofwaardig, was ineens het personage kwijt. En ook
...more
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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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