Monday, 3 March 2014

The Dove Flyer by Eli Amir

Kabi’s father dreams of being a rice farmer in Israel, his mother simply wants to return to the Moslem village that she felt safe in before moving to Baghdad. Kabi’s teacher dreams of a society where Jews and Arabs live in equality and his uncle has been arrested for his belief in a Zionist State.

This novel is set during the final years of the Jewish community in Baghdad before their expulsion in 1950 and settlement in Israel. It is the story of Kabi and his family and the final days of their community.   However, as Kabi listens to the dreams of his family and observes the disintegration of the place he calls home he comes to learn that family and community is about much more than the physical place in which he lives.

This book took me quite a while to get into. I was a bit overwhelmed by the number of characters at the beginning and had some trouble keeping up with who was who. However, as the story developed these confusions settled and I plunged into this novel which enthusiasm as this cast of colourful characters came alive on the page.

The novel is rich in atmosphere. I could almost see the sights of Baghdad and smell the aromas of the kitchens and marketplace as I was reading.  It is not often that reading a novel becomes a tactile experience but the storytelling in this book really was sufficient to transport me to the time and place of the setting.

I found this novel both thought provoking and informative and I learned a lot more about the Jewish situation in Baghdad during this time in it‘s history.  The novel made me stop and think a lot about how we define home and belonging and I rather felt that this was the main theme of the novel and was dealt with extremely well.

I am glad that I hung in there with this book as once it got going it ran smoothly and was an evocative and sensitive read. Kabi is an honest and extremely likable narrator and is a character worth spending time with and getting to know.

I did feel that the novel ended rather abruptly so am very excited to learn that there is a sequel to this novel, Yasmine, which is set during the aftermath of the Six Day War in Israel and which takes up their story. I hope to read this at the first opportunity as I was left wanting to know more about this family.

I would encourage you to read this book as it will appeal to many readers. Anyone interested in historical novels or the Israeli/Palestinian situation will find a great deal to enjoy in this book.

ISBN:  978 1905559183

Publisher:  Halban Publishers

Price(todays kindle price on  £4.79

Total saving so far:  £205.38

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