The Falafel king is dead by Sara shilo

Source – review copy from the lovely Kelly at Portobello books

This is Sara Shilo’s debut novel ,she is a Northern Israeli ,that didn’t start writing til she was in her forties inspired by her fellow israeli writer David Grossman who helped her get this book published ,she suffers from ADHD thou this is mentioned in the story but it makes the style very unique quick cuts jump between characters make this an unusual book .

The book is set in a town in the north of Israeli where the people who live there live under the threat of attack by missiles and this book follows one day in a family after such an attack the way they cope and comes to terms with the death of a patriarch the Falafel king of the title ,this day is six years after that event but there still under alert and missiles fly by daily ,we hear from his wife Simona and the children Etti ,Dudi ,Itzik and Kobi there are two other children Chaim and Oshri but they are involved but not as narrators to the story the narrative jumps  the story is jumpy and a little hard to follow at first so much I had to put this book down for a day or two and come at it with time and a clear head this isn’t a book you can catch in patches no you have to sit and soak in the wiz of Katyusha missiles ,a family in turmoil is the widow sleeping with the sun ,the daughter Etti is coming of age and discovering sex and freedom .

Who would have thought the Katyusha would find me outside ?I haven’t been out ,really for six years I just switch off and go : to work ,to the market ,to the market ,to work .And the one time Simona does something different the Katyusha catches here out.

The opening of the falafel king is dead ,Simona is caught in a missile attack .

I was remind of sketch on a spoken word CD by the American rock /spoken word star Henry Rollins about a letter he’d had from a Israeli fan who had just suffer a missile attack and how that had put his own problems into perspective .This book shows yet again the vibrancy of Hebrew literature living under constant fear of attack is just awful and this book puts you in the shoes of the family a lower class working family selling street food ,which falafel is ,it’s a chick pea ball with salad in a pitta bread very tasty snack . the book was translated from Hebrew ,it has won numerous prizes in Israel including the Sapir prize in 2007 the Israel version of the booker prize .

It’s a man’s world too

The year of feminist classics is under way with Ana Amy Iris and  Emily at helm their reviews of classic women’s writing this year  .Well here is the rub guys why don’t us male bloggers do a year of big male writers .Those scary male writers people are scared of Mailer ,Bellow ,Hemingway ,Steinbeck ,Self ,O’Brien,Kerouac ,Burroughs,Xaiver Herbert ,Tim Winton and also the two new peirne titles fit the bill as well  .So if any male bloggers want join and sort out a reading list of a month books that be great .There is great manly writing that is getting less read these days so why don’t we promote them  as well !!!


The gospel of Anarchy by Justin Taylor

source – review copy

Justin Taylor is a young American writer ,this is his debut novel last year he published a collection of short stories “everything here is the best thing ever ” ,which I have but have only read the first couple of stories but style wise this is just as good as his short stories .He has written for a number of american magazines and appeared on public radio .

The book is set in 1999 and goes through millennium in is David story from dark nights on the internet trading Pornographic images to meet an old friend leads to an alternate world the hippy alternative universe an anarchist collective ,this is a story of youth and growing up and what happens when you take the wrong path ,it can be fun but at times very dark .all this is sparked by David meet old college buddy Thomas and going to fishgut this is an old house full of people  ,that is the collectives heart and base .This is maybe the dying embers of a sixties dream gone bad ,I love music from big pink and the idea\ of communal living has appeal to me the ability  to swap ideas and feed of other people’s creativity would be great ,but Fishgut isn’t like this the morals are lost in some ways I m remind of Garlands beach what happens when paradise turns bad ,this tackles people’s dream searching for religious belief ,identity and in particular a place in society or in this case in  a group .

Thomas took me on a tour of fishgut ,not that there was much to show .There were three bedrooms – his , Kathy ,and one outfitted with two sets of bunk beds as a guest room or travellers rest .They were all scenes from the same low-budget disaster movie .the linoleum in the kitchen was faded past pigmentation ,but held on to a hazy hangover memory of having once been green

the first site of fishgut .by David shown round by his old friend Thomas .

David gets caught up in affairs with the women at Fishgut ,as he sleeps with them and  get caught up in a five way love triangle ,there is a found journal that leads to a cult left by old guest of the house a man of the road .I enjoyed this book Taylors writing is playful and dark at same time he draws you into this crazy youthful world like he did in the shorts I ve read by him .


what a beauty -a pocket book

How lovely are the new Penguin Mini Modern classics ,Like the old penguin 60’s that were released for penguins 60th ,they slip neatly into a jacket pocket for use when ever you find a spare second ,although I have two book apps on my phones I find reading via phone hard at best of times so these new Minis will Keep me going for a good while as modern paperback sometimes are too big for a pocket of a casual coat .saying I don’t like my book apps I love my goodreads app great to just scan and go so to speak .

Do you always have a book with you ?

Do you use book apps on the phone ?

Death and the penguin by Andrey Kurkov

Source – personnel copy

Andrey Kurkov is a Ukrainian writer he grew up under the soviet system ,his father was a test pilot and his mother a doctor .He trained as a Japanese translator and did his Military service as a prison guard in the southern Ukraine city of Odessa ,he has publish thirteen novels and some children’s books .His books have been translated into numerous languages

Death and the penguin was Kurkov’s debut novel and was written in russian and translated here by George Bird ,he has translated Kurkov’s over novels .The book centre’s on Victor a writer struggling to make a living at his craft he has a companion Misha a Penguin he rescue from a local zoo that had to get rid of its animals .The book starts with victor been offered a job which he takes as Obituary writer ,so he then seems to be boosted in the world of politics and corruption as he meets and chats to the friends and family of the recently deceased  or to be deceased as it turns out along the way Victor meets another Misha a human thou which made me laugh as she is referred to as the non penguin Misha through the book .There is also two women that seem to end up at the funerals and a shadowy figure called that fat man ,A downward spiral of disaster awaits Victor as the hapless writer gets drag into a conspiracy ,which means he has to escape and Misha the penguin ends up getting sent to her home in the Antarctic .

Two days later the phone rang ,

capital news. Sorry to trouble you said a crisp ,clear female voice I have the editor in chief on the line .

The receiver changed hands .

Viktor Alekseyevich a man’s voice enquired couldn’t pop in today could you ? or are you busy ?

no said Viktor .

The phone call that sets Viktor on a troubling path and a start in writing Obituaries

This book was dark and comic novel ,a look at post communist Ukraine ,I felt Misha and Viktor maybe symbolise Ukraine a little Misha a nation flightless and out-of-place and Viktor an artist want to find its voice amongst corrupt people and crumbling system .Kurkov’s writing is fast-moving and lyrical at times .Most of the story is told from Viktors point of view as he gets caught up in troubling times .Misha is his escape from his everyday world this penguin that needs him to look after him and ultimately set her free on her new life and in doing so sets himself on a new life path .This book has a follow-up penguin lost

This is one of my eastern european reading challenge choices ,

Have you read this book ?

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