Title: City of Thieves
Author: David Benioff
Pub Date: May 2008
My Rating: ★★★★★
It is a history fiction like I never read before. The story is set in Leningrad during Nazis’ siege, during cold Russian winters of 1942. Lev Beniov is arrested for stealing from a dead German soldier who’s body fell from the sky on the streets of Piter. He’s thrown into an empty cell and soon is joined by deserter named Kolya. They both expect to be executed in the morning, but instead, they are taken to the colonel who has a very special assignment for them. The Soviet colonel is planning his daughter’s wedding, and there is no proper wedding celebration without a wedding cake. It is why Lev and Kolya are sent to find a dozen eggs before Thursday, giving them only five days to complete this impossible task. There is no food in Leningrad; people are eating a ‘library candy’ that is made from glue from the book spine – and this is the top delicacy. The quest to find eggs takes Lev and Kolya outside of Leningrad, where they have to fight the Nazis, work with deserters trick top ranking soldier into a game, all to find eggs and survive.
Lev and Kolya are two completely different people that may not become friends if the circumstances didn’t force them together. Lev is a shy chess playing Jewish boy, who lost his father. Kolya is accused of being a deserter, but is claiming that he did not desert his post, he had to defend his thesis on a famous and genius book ‘The Courtyard Hound’. He is confident, and he is not scared of saying stuff that will get him in trouble. He’s an incredible speaker, and he can charm anyone into liking him. Those two have a rough start, but they eventually become friends who truly care for each other.
I love how humorous this book is, even though it speaks of horrible times in the history, the banter between the two main characters is incredible, and you cannot hide your smile. Kolya’s stories about girls, about his conquests, may be a bit graphic and raunchy and something that is unfeminist, but I can forgive him for that. After all, it was a war; they were constantly fighting for survival, looking for food and a warm place to sleep. The sexists jokes can be forgiven.
The story is amazing. It is full of different events that I was not at all expecting for this story gives a full view not only on the story of two main characters but also on the realities of that time in Russia. The bits and pieces show us how it must have been living in Leningrad and neighbour towns. Show us how the hunger was affecting people, and actions that now seem unimaginable then were a quite normal.
It is the book to read, so if you haven’t already, do it.
The post was spell checked using Grammarly.