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 .

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February 2011
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