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City of Thieves: A Novel

 
 
 
 
City of Thieves: A Novel
Author: David Benioff
ISBN 13: 9780452295292
ISBN 10: 452295297
Edition: N/A
Publisher: Penguin Books
Publication Date: 2009-03-31
Format: Paperback
Pages: 258
List Price: $16.00
 
 

As wise and funny as it is thrilling and original—the story of two young men on an impossible adventure

A writer visits his retired grandparents in Florida to document their experience during the infamous siege of Leningrad. His grandmother won't talk about it, but his grandfather reluctantly consents. The result is the captivating odyssey of two young men trying to survive against desperate odds.

Lev Beniov considers himself “built for deprivation.” He's small, smart, and insecure, a Jewish virgin too young for the army, who spends his nights working as a volunteer firefighter with friends from his building. When a dead German paratrooper lands in his street, Lev is caught looting the body and dragged to jail, fearing for his life. He shares his cell with the charismatic and grandiose Kolya, a handsome young soldier arrested on desertion charges. Instead of the standard bullet in the back of the head, Lev and Kolya are given a shot at saving their own lives by complying with an outrageous directive: secure a dozen eggs for a powerful colonel to use in his daughter's wedding cake. In a city cut off from all supplies and suffering unbelievable deprivation, Lev and Kolya embark on a hunt to find the impossible. A search that takes them through the dire lawlessness of Leningrad and the devastated surrounding countryside creates an unlikely bond between this earnest, lust-filled teenager and an endearing lothario with the gifts of a conman. Set within the monumental events of history, City of Thieves is an intimate coming-of-age tale with an utterly contemporary feel for how boys become men.

The Barnes & Noble Review

David Benioff has made a specialty out of crafting characters who achieve some measure of success -- fame, fortune, athletic prowess, or beauty -- but who simultaneously see through it. They are haunted by the compromises they ve made to get to the top. A screenwriter, Benioff is best known in the literary world for his 2000 novel, The 25th Hour (later filmed by Spike Lee, with Benioff's script). That book featured a handsome New York city drug dealer named Montgomery Brogan -- a working-class boy forced to appear tougher than he felt -- who was whiling away his last hours as a free man before heading off to a notoriously brutal upstate prison. Monty was an antihero, but Benioff made the reader root for him as a self-aware cog in a flawed universe.

Similarly, in the short stories of When the Nines Roll Over, Benioff presented characters such as Tabachnik, a brilliant A&R man ambivalent about selling out his artists, and June, a prosaic waitress who knows getting her big break as an actress means leaving her pure-hearted boyfriend. Benioff s characters were smart but not happy, because their intelligence forced them to scorn easy consolations.