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 .

14 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Heather
    Feb 23, 2011 @ 20:36:23

    this sounds like quite the story. thanks for bringing it to my attention.


  2. The Book Whisperer
    Feb 23, 2011 @ 23:09:49

    Where do you keep getting all these books from Israel from Stu? I’m so jealous!! 😉

    I just love the title of this book as falafel was one of my favourite things to eat when I was out there – we used to have them with tomato and cucumber cut into tiny pieces and in a warm pitta bread fresh from the carts – YUMMY!!!


    • winstonsdad
      Feb 23, 2011 @ 23:20:45

      seem to keep getting sent them ,happy thou the books I ve read last few months so good ,knew this be one for you ,got so more in similar vein next week ,all the best stu


  3. Willa
    Feb 24, 2011 @ 16:27:30

    As always a great review Stu! I would probably read this book just based on the cool title and the beautiful cover.


  4. amanda
    Feb 24, 2011 @ 19:20:32

    I hadn’t heard of this one, but it sounds like a good read. I don’t think I’ve read any Israeli fiction–yet another reminder of how many parts of the world my reading is short on. Something to work on… Also, thanks for stopping by my blog–I’ll have to remember novellas for the next reading funk.


  5. Emily Jane
    Feb 25, 2011 @ 04:14:59

    I agree with Willa, the cover alone is pretty enticing!


  6. Nana Fredua-Agyeman
    Feb 25, 2011 @ 07:58:26

    The fear of living, of leaving your homestead, of being within your home, is a story that has not been told much by both sides of the divide. I once watched a documentary on how tranquilizers are the most sought after drug in Iraq just because people are always afraid. Thanks for this.


  7. Bina
    Feb 26, 2011 @ 10:40:07

    I’ve seen this book in stores here but wasn’t quite sure whether I’d like it. I’ll have to see if the library has it, you’ve convinced me! 🙂


  8. Kinna
    Mar 04, 2011 @ 12:32:17

    This sounds very interesting and my kind of heart-rending book. IAdded to my list. Thanks.


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February 2011


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