City of Thieves by David Benioff - 2008 - 258 pages
A New York Times Best Seller
Set in Leningrad during 1942 during the German siege of the city, 16 year old Lev Beniov is arrested for looting and thrown in the same cell as a 19 year old deserter from the Russian Army. Both are at risk for quick executions. The deserter goes by Kolya. He is blond, handsome, a smooth talker and fancies himself a ladies man. Of course he denies he is a deserter, claiming he is on a secret mission. Lev looks like he is Jewish.
They are taken to the office of a colonel. Going in they spot s beautiful young woman ice skating on the Neva River. Both the boys can see she eats meat every day, she must have a powerful father. The colonel is her father. She is getting married in a week and is demanding s big cake, one requiring a dozen eggs. Eggs are nearly impossible to find. The colonel offers the two boys a deal. He gives them a week to roam free and return with the eggs needed, if they do, they go free, if not he will have them captured and executed. He feeds them,food anciety dominated almost everyone’s Life, gives them some rubles and sends them on their mission.
Lenigrad is a wasteland, a near necroplolis. People are even resorting to canabalism. The Germans are incredibly cruel, vicious monsters. The Boys have several close calls. They join for a while a group of Russian partisans. Among them is a female sniper with over 200 confirmed kills. Besides being perpetually hungry, the Boys are preoccupied with sex. The sniper is wrapped up in heavy clothes but they speculate on the size of her breasts. Of course Koyla brags about his experience with women.
In s very powerful segment the Boys come upon a fancy dacha which turns out to be a comfort House for German officers stocked with Young Russian women. Everywhere they ask for Eggs but with no luck.cruelty, death, and starvation are around any turn. The Germans are depicted as worshipping a mad man who wants everyone in Leningrad killed or starved.
Lev does return with a dozen Eggs. I would describe the ending as partially happy, partially more meaningless death.
There are lots of close calls, the conversations of the boys are marvelous, Lev’s father was a famous poet.
The minor characters are very well done.
The Kindle edition is currently available for $1.95
David Benioff worked as a nightclub bouncer in San Francisco, a radio DJ in Wyoming and an English teacher/wrestling coach in Brooklyn before selling his first novel, The 25th Hour, in 2000.
He later wrote the screenplay for Spike Lee’s adaptation of 25th Hour starring Edward Norton and Phillip Seymour Hoffman. In 2005, Viking Press published Benioff’s collection of short stories, When the Nines Roll Over.
“Benioff’s screenwriting credits include Troy (2004), directed by Wolfgang Petersen, and Stay (2005), directed by Marc Forster, The Kite Runner (2007). Jim Sheridan produced Benioff’s screenplay Brothers, and Hugh Jackman reprised his role as the clawed mutant in Benioff’s Wolverine. He is also screenwriter and executive producer of Game of Thrones, HBO's adaptation of George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series of novels.
Viking published his most recent novel, City of Thieves, in May 2008.
Benioff is married to actress Amanda Peet; the couple has three children.”