“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 goes much deeper. In A Pigeon and a Boy, Shalev presents a story of Yair, and his quest for love and a home of his own. Through Yair’s journey, we learn about Yair’s own background, how he came into being, fathered almost magically via the delivery of a homing pigeon. Throughout the book we learn of homing pigeons and their longing to be in the place where they are cared for and happy. We also learn of Israel’s War of Independence – their quest for their own homeland.
Despite this novel winning the National Jewish Book Award, I wasn’t totally bowled over by it. The story was slow and the metaphors were a little hard to follow, not being Jewish or a student of Israeli culture/history myself. But it wasn’t a terrible read either. It was just okay for me. Shalev’s writing style is actually quite beautiful and descriptive, and at times it was even humorous. The author injects a bit of magical realism, which isn’t my cup of tea, but thankfully it was kept to a minimum. I think perhaps I would have enjoyed the novel more had I read it as part of a class, or at the very least, had a reading guide at my side.
3 1/2 stars (out of 5)
Published in 2007