A Pigeon and a Boy

A Pigeon and a Boy

by Meir Shalev
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A Pigeon and a Boy by Meir Shalev

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

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780805212143
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 01/06/2009
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 185,024
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.97(d)

About the Author

Meir Shalev was born in 1948 on Nahalal, Israel’s first moshav, and is one of Israel’s most celebrated novelists. His books have been translated into more than twenty languages and have been best sellers in Israel, Holland, and Germany. In 1999 the author was awarded the Juliet Club Prize (Italy). He has also received the Prime Minister’s Prize (Israel), the Chiavari (Italy), the Entomological Prize (Israel), the WIZO Prize (France, Israel, and Italy), and for A Pigeon and a Boy, the Brenner Prize, Israel’s highest literary recognition. A columnist for the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth, Shalev lives in Jerusalem and in northern Israel with his wife and children.

Evan Fallenberg (www.evanfallenberg.com) translates fiction by well-known and upcoming Israeli writers. He teaches creative writing at Bar Ilan University in Israel and is the author of Light Fell, a novel.

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Pigeon and a Boy 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
the book was on my book club list to be read and for our group to discuss on March 14th. Unfortunately, after I started reading the book I just could not get into it. I forced myself to read apporximately 100 pages and just put it down, did not finish it at all. Just was not interested in reading about pigeons. Although supposedly it is supposed to be ficton, I somehow got the impression from the first 100 pages I read that it was actually based on the author's life. The first book I ordered, In the Garden of the Beast was excellant and I am referring it to everyone. Will NOT refer a Pigeon and a boy.Rating O Charlotte Rutta
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Ronci More than 1 year ago
A Pigeon and a Boy is a fine illustration of newly created parallel worlds which flow along unerringly, develop a rhythm by their own uniqueness and individuality and finally intersect with an ardency and impact that leaves the reader startled. Throughout the narrative, the reader experiences shifts in moods. The tone of the story begins quietly, almost reluctantly. Building on this, the drama offers brief glimpses of unresolved sorrows and temporary rays of sunshine and then further storms follow until the tension builds to an almost unbearable point. The ability of a story to put a finger on a sensitive part of somebody's soul is the true test of artistic commission. The soldier, Baby, as he lay dying, "Cold gushed from his bones and inundated his flesh. His heart grew tranquil... with open eyes, watched the pigeon fly, at first light-colored as she distanced herself, then darker as she ascended, with soft, puffed breast and strong wings, so beautiful that he craved nothing more than to rise toward her, to hold and kiss her before he died." The novel is comprised of two separate stories conjoined by an unlikely device: a letter transported by carrier pigeon. The first story takes place around the 1940s before and during the Six-Day War when homing pigeons were used for military purposes. Shalev's characters in the first story are two pigeon handlers, Baby and Raya, whose love affair is kept alive via letters carried by the pigeons. The second story is set in the present, centering around an Israeli man, Yair Mendelsohn, who wants to escape his current life in Jerusalem for a new home on the coast. The stories are intertwined by the motif of "home," symbolized by the pigeon's constant flight back. The building of a home is a creation of comfort. Shalev's rich sensory details allow the reader not only to see, but to touch, taste and hear and fully enter the scene. Meriam is defined by the incessant jiggling of her knees and the smoke curling from her evening cigarette; Raya's voice resounds in our ears saying, "I can't take it anymore"; Meshulam's blue handkerchief that appears from his breast pocket to dab the corner of his eye dabs our tears as well. Shalev paints Yair as a flawed character, one who is easily flustered, hampered throughout life by his short stature, dark, closely spaced eyes, steel-wool hair, the face of a thug and his thick skull. Benjamin, Yair's brother, was the charmer, an angelic child with soft, fair colored curls and precocious, cunning intellect. Yair believes him to be more loved by his mother, a resentment that percolates their lives. His reluctance to leave his loveless marriage is disturbing. Baby possessed the qualities of goodness, virtue, tenderness, passion and loyalty rarely seen. Whatever handicaps he had by way of birth, he remained true to his love of pigeons and to the ten characteristics of a good pigeon handler. Examined carefully, they mimic the Ten Commandments. Baby was a man of God. In a mystical way, this part seemed written by the female Belgian homing pigeon that Raya gave to Baby. As the pigeon soared and took flight, Baby ascended; his heart beat in synchrony with the heart of the pigeon. She flew fearlessly, determinedly and came home bringing Baby with her. She also reached out to us through storm clouds, treacherous winds, thunder, past hawk-eyed interceptors and deadly bullets and taught us that love and coming home to rest are what makes us whole.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Luciaparla More than 1 year ago
Thought provoking. Lends itself to a very interesting discussion.
Guest More than 1 year ago
While on vacation, I saw this book on the library shelf. I was caught up in the story, the characters, and especially how they all came together at the beautiful finale. The author was not familiar to me but I found him to possess skills as a masterful writer and storyteller! A great way to spend a rainy day.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A compeling tale of love and life. I couldn't put it down.