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The Lion of Boaz-Jachin and Jachin-Boaz

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  432 ratings  ·  32 reviews
In a not-so-distant future when lions are extinct Jachin-Boaz, a middle-aged mapmaker, leaves home with the wonderful map that was to tell his son where to find everything. In the ruins of a palace at Nineveh, his son Boaz-Jachin finds the wall-carving of a great lion dying on the spear of an ancient king.
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Published September 4th 2000 by Bloomsbury (first published 1973)
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Average rating 3.97  · 
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 ·  432 ratings  ·  32 reviews


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Tony
Jan 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There were no lions any more.

So this begins. And soon adds that there were no chariots either.

This is a wonderful, symbolic tale of a father and son, or fathers and sons. I don't universalize the gender because Hoban doesn't; and, indeed, women fare poorly.

The best part of this book, in a literary sense, is when the father, Jachin-Boaz, gets committed to a mental hospital. . . because he sees and is injured by a lion which we all know can not exist. It's funny there, if only because of the docto
...more
Greg
Jul 11, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: mapmakers
Any son who has a father must read this book. Any man who has a son must read this book. Any seer who loves maps must read this book. Anyone confronted by lions must read this book. Anyone who loves and fears the strangeness in humanity must read this book.
Ben Loory
Nov 07, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Ben by: steve himmer
funny and sad, realistic and supernatural, a fable about fathers and sons and the existence of non-existent things...

'Empty space,' said the driver. 'There's a funny thing to think about. The back of the van is full of empty space. I brought it from my town. But I've opened the doors several times since I left. So is it still empty space from my town or is it now several different new empty spaces? This is the sort of thing one thinks about sometimes. If the back of the van were full of chairs
...more
Annette
I am not sure how I came to order this book. Then it languished unread on my shelves for years. But this year I decided I should read what I have as much as I can (even before the pandemic). I needed a fantasy including a cat for a challenge. A lion is a cat. The Lion of Boaz-Jachin and Jachin-Boaz is so different from every book I've ever read. I needed to know more. I googled Russell Hoban. I went to the British Museum website to look at Assyrian friezes. I looked up the meanings of Jachin and ...more
James
Oct 06, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone
I definitely speak on a bias when I praise Russell Hoban. He is one of my favorite writers and indirectly has been since I was the age of 3. The Mouse and His Child has stuck with me my entirely life and continues to stay as I read it every year and even deemed it necessary to have images of it permantently etched into my skin. But thats beside the fact. Hoban is one of the most gifted, ingenious, and hidden writers of our time, writing some of the most unique and affirming books I've ever read. ...more
Kevin Jones
Sep 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this little gem of magical realism. The author was entirely new to me, and I did not know what to expect from the story. It turned out to be an extraordinarily well-crafted and moving meditation on the good and bad of father-son relationships. A father carries on a family map-making business after defying the expectations of his father to become a scientist. That same father wants more from his son and draws him a master map that promises him a better future. Before gifting his son the m ...more
Daniel Polansky
A middle-aged cartographer, disappointed with his life and family, flees his village for the city, pursued by his son and an invisible though not imaginary lion representing the vigorous potency of existence and its helplessness in the face of implacable death. I became convinced this month that Russel Hoban is one of the mpre original and underappreciated voices of 20th century literature, and this is exhibit A. Magical realism at its finest, strange and evocative and beautiful. A strange deli ...more
The Idle Woman
Jan 07, 2018 rated it liked it
This novel turned out to be a thought-provoking, if somewhat mystifying read: the first half full of poignant comments on belonging, self-direction and the relationship between fathers and sons; the second half verging on hallucinogenic self-indulgence. Realising that it was first published in 1973, I wondered if parts might have made more sense if I’d been smoking something not entirely legal. And yet there’s one irresistible aspect: it’s inspired by the magnificent Lion Hunt reliefs at the Bri ...more
Darren
Er... not quite sure what to make of this highly stylised allegory about er... - anyway, there was a lot of reference to lions and maps which presumably must've been intended as metaphors for father-son relationship and er... - I did enjoy reading it and it was quite short, so I will re-read it one day and hope I "connect" better to it when in a different mood maybe? 3.5 stars but rounding down now (and maybe up in future!) ...more
Owen Curtsinger
It's hard for me to compare this book to anything I've read before, which automatically earns it some uniqueness points. It hints at sci-fi/fantasy, but the only fantastical elements to the story are the extinction of lions (which may not be all that far off in reality) and the fact that maps in Hoban's world are far more revealing and magical than our world's paper maps. The story is told with the soft focus of allegory that is void of place names (ironic in a book about maps?) and slight on de ...more
Matt
Feb 19, 2018 rated it it was ok
Starts full of promise, juggling lions and maps as clever metaphors for masculine relationships. But as the tale goes on, it seems to lose a sense of direction, becoming increasingly disjointed and rambling.
Eriyna Losphona
Jun 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
pretty trippy. found this in the kids section of a used bookstore, the back cover comparing hoban to tolkein and cs lewis... but this is NOT a kids book! a terrifically symbolic/philosophical/fantastic/folkloric/modern tale of the most basic of human relationships - parent to child
Terry Mark
Feb 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a short novel and Russell Hoban's first, and what a corker it is. ...more
Nicholas
Dec 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
Deep, weird and interesting.
Bbrown
Sep 20, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Lion of Boaz-Jachin and Jachin-Boaz starts out in the style of a fairy tale or myth, which tends to irk me: real fairy tales and myths are stories worn smooth by a hundred thousand retellings over the course of centuries, which is how they get their primordial feel. Attempts to copy that feeling usually result in an affect that strikes me as cheap and unearned. Luckily, The Lion of Boaz-Jachin and Jachin-Boaz turns into something more interesting before its end.

The book gives us two main ta
...more
Marion Hill
Jul 29, 2017 rated it liked it
Sometimes a book will come out of nowhere for you to read it?

The Lion of Boaz-Jachin and Jachin-Boaz by Russell Hoban is a such book. I’ve had this book on my Kindle Paperwhite for awhile and I finally decided to read it while on vacation in Europe last week. I did not plan to read this book, but once I started I could not put it down until I finished.

It is the story about Jachin-Boaz, a middle-aged mapmaker, who has reached a mid-life crisis. His life has not gone the way he had imagined and d
...more
Ensiform
Dec 17, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
Jachin-Boaz, a Jewish map maker, leaves his wife and son to find “a lion,” though they are extinct. He takes with him the “master map of everything” he was preparing for his son. The son follows after him to London, and his rage becomes a lion that haunts Jachin-Boaz, while he too searches for somewhere and something to be. A mystical, original fantasy, with some gems of phrasing here and there; but I found the book a bit tedious at times. That the tale is a quest for self means that the charact ...more
Rael
Nov 10, 2007 rated it really liked it
I was perhaps too young (18) and id like to re-read it..
Great book, i remember that wonderfull feeling associated with great books, ..
but the details are vague..the lion, the map,the shop, the quest..
Janis
Apr 07, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I read this book in high school many years ago and I don't remember the story, I just remember that I loved it and I think I'll buy it again and reread it because it just makes me feel good to see it. ...more
Toni Brisland
Mar 03, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A father & son battle today's emotional problems of acceptance in a futuristic phantoasmagorical world akin to the Kate Forsyth children's novels. But, it is a sad world without lions, all extinct, until the son goes searching for them, only to find his father! ...more
Courtney
Aug 19, 2007 rated it it was amazing
A fantastical story of a father and a son, seeking to understand each other and their own life stories.
Doug K
Aug 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing
my father tried to give me his maps, but I didn't know how to take them. ...more
David Glenn Dixon
Mar 18, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hoban-in-order
Hoban can put his subtext right out front and it doesn't hurt a thing. ...more
Júlía
Jun 19, 2010 rated it really liked it
This book is cool. it's about mapping and lions. in a cool way. read it. ...more
David
Jul 31, 2012 rated it really liked it
Lion? What lion? Extraordinary blend of quotidian life (in an enticingly anonymous country) with myth, magic and fable, all centred around a troubled father-son relationship.
Luke
Jan 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
Put down your Paulo Coelho and read this. It's much better. ...more
Tim Hollo
Feb 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
A powerful, poetic musing on the father-son relationship and much much more.
Justin Howe
Jun 25, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A magic realist novel about fathers and sons, but also about time and how none of us can escape it. Glad to see this has been reprinted by Valancourt.
Nikson
Feb 02, 2020 rated it liked it
Sad and funny
Irrealististic world with a lot of metaphors that bind you to this story about travelling, searching yourself and finding.
Joseph Scapellato
A beautifully mythic novel, Hoban's first. It's a folktale in the form of a novel. Every page teems with stunningly poetic sentences -- with wonder, dark humor, play. An amazing book. ...more

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Russell Conwell Hoban was an American expatriate writer. His works span many genres, including fantasy, science fiction, mainstream fiction, magical realism, poetry, and children's books. He lived in London, England, from 1969 until his death. (Wikipedia) ...more

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“There were no lions any more. There had been lions once. Sometimes in the shimmer of the heat on the plains the motion of their running still flickered on the dry wind — tawny, great, and quickly gone. Sometimes the honey-colored moon shivered to the silence of a ghost-roar on the rising air.” 5 likes
“Who can know anybody?' said the bookshop owner. 'Every person is like thousands of books. New, reprinting, in stock, out of stock, fiction, non-fiction, poetry, rubbish. The lot. Different every day. One's lucky to be able to put his hand on the one that's wanted, let alone know it.” 1 likes
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