19 March 2011

Backlist Book Review: City of Thieves by David Benioff

It's a clear but cold afternoon as I sit at my desk to type this and I've been thinking a lot about Russian literature vis a vis this week's blog hop.  It has made me remember a book from a few years ago that evokes wartime Russia so well, and as I read the book before I started my bookblog, I thought I would take a moment to post about it here.  It's City of Thieves by David Benioff, published by (I think) Penguin.  Two young men are caught out after curfew and accused--one for thieving government property and one for desertion--in 1942 Leningrad, and instead of being shot on sight, they are given a chance to live IF they can find before the week's end one dozen eggs to be used for the Kommandant's daughter's wedding cake.  The catch? Leningrad is under siege and the city is slowly starving to death and eggs cannot be found for any amount of love or money. 

If ever the full gamut of the Odyssey Bookstore staff has agreed on a book, this would be it--mystery, literary fiction, historical fiction and commercial fiction readers all read it and loved it.  Telling a tale that is equal parts coming of age, war story, male bonding, and winter survival, with hints of romantic interest, Benioff spins a compelling yarn that is easily devoured in one sitting but that will linger in the reader's memory.  Moments of brutality have their counterpoint flashes of humor in this utterly captivating story depicting the siege of Leningrad. 

Benioff did a reading at our store for this book and we had a lively discussion about truth in storytelling and the ways that family history can become fable. You see, the main character is Lev Beniov and the author is of Russian descent...Recommended for all readers, teen and up. 


  1. Ok, you've sold me. :) Will add it to my tbr list. So is it YA?

  2. Monica, though I would say that most teens would find it apretty good read, and most of it is appropriate for that age, it is definitely an adult book.

  3. I probably would have passed right by this one, but it definitely sounds like something I would enjoy...I love reading Russian authors, and I like reading about this time period, so its a win-win for me :)


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