What I’ve Read This Month – January 2014

Books Bought:

  • החצוצרה נתיבשה – חיים נחמן ביאליק
  • ילדה רגילה לגמרי – רועי ישורון

Books Read:

  • Shantaram – Gregory David Roberts
  • My Promised Land – Ari Shavit (Kindle)
  • אפשרות של אלימות – דרור משעני
  • עזאזל – בוריס אקונין

After the gluttonous end-of-year book purchase spree, January saw a lull in new books added to my library. In fact, I bought no books this month, and the two new books listed above were free: one a free e-book from the new (and promising) Hebrew e-book store Mendele, and the other I received as a prize for completing a crossword puzzle.

Four books read this month. Here are the reviews, this time two full reviews, linked to below:

My wife bought this book and read it a long time ago. I’ve been meaning to read it but I guess the fact that it is almost 1,000 pages long contributed to it getting neglected on the shelf. But a few weeks ago a friend from work sent out an email recommending it, and as I take friends’ recommendations seriously (they almost always turn out to be spot on) I decided it’s time to read “Shantaram”. Read the full review here.

 

This book is an attempt to explain Israel. If I were asked how long it would take to accomplish such a gargantuan task, my guess would have been several encyclopedic tomes, and then some. Ari Shavit did it in less than 500 beautifully written pages. Read the full review here.

 

 

download

This is the second installment in the “Inspector Avraham” detective series by Dror Mishani, whose claim to fame is a successful first bestseller.

אפשרות של אלימות” (“The Possibility of Violence”) sees Inspector Avraham return from a vacation in Europe, where he took time off to recover from his mistakes in the first investigation into the case of a missing child. He is now faced with a case involving a suitcase with a fake bomb placed not far from a kindergarten in his hometown of Holon. A suspect is immediately apprehended, but is released after a few hours. Avraham interviews the woman running the kindergarten and believes her story. The reader already knows things are not what they seem.

The father of a child who frequents that same kindergarten is the main character in the book. He is somehow involved, but it is not clear how. His rocky marriage to a Philippine woman, mother of his two children, ends mysteriously. The woman apparently went back to the Philippines but local police does not have any record of her entering the country. It is all very strange, and Mishani keeps the mystery going until almost the end of the book.

While I found the story intriguing, I wasn’t as drawn into it as in the first book by Mishani. Something in the plot doesn’t seem right and the solving of the case leaves many unanswered questions. Mishani is a good writer. I’m sure he’ll recover from the “second book syndrome” and continue to provide us with good entertainment.

downloadUnfashionably late to Boris Akunin’s novels, I read “עזאזל” (“Azazel”, English title: “The Winter Queen”) completely by chance this month. My sister-in-law brought it for my wife, and I managed to snag it first. Turns out it is the first book in the Fandorin series, so I was in luck.

The year is 1876, and a student walks up to two ladies sitting on a park bench and, after a few words, put a gun to his head and commits suicide. Fandorin, a young detective is not satisfied with the dismissal of the case as just another symptom of the boredom and decadence of the Muscovite students, and decides to investigate further. His investigation quickly turns nasty, as he witnesses a murder and is almost killed himself.

Fandorin travels across Europe to follow up on the leads he picks up in Russia, and uncovers a global conspiracy that has already claimed the lives of many innocents. Fandorin’s trust is betrayed again and again, both by subjects of his investigation, but also from unexpected quarters: his own detective unit.

It is no wonder Akunin is such a best-selling author. His language is beautiful and the story moves along at a brisk pace, without succumbing to superlatives and drama, the bane of many detective novels. He reconstructs the atmosphere of the age  (in the Hebrew translation, many terms are helpfully explained in the footnotes) and his writing is reminiscent of the great Russian novelists.

Without spoiling the plot for future readers, I will say I loved the ending of the book. Although it is not a twist in the plot (the mystery is already solved), the ending is unexpected and, again, very different from the standard fare in this genre. I will definitely be reading more of Akunin in the future.

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One thought on “What I’ve Read This Month – January 2014

  1. Pingback: What I’ve Read This Month – February-April 2014 | Nafka Mina

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