Thank you all so much for your thoughts emails and comments that arrived from yesterdays post. I will be responding to you all throughout the day but now its time for some thoughts aimed towards a particular book which is ‘CrocAttack!’ by Assaf Gavron. Before I do it was very interesting to hear lots of you saying a book blog with few reviews will leave you wanting and eventually not visiting, but then we are book blogs so reading and relating our thoughts after should be what we are about as well as random bookish moments. But how many book reviews is enough and how many is too many, if a blog is solely reviews I find myself switching off or questioning how someone can read that much. Maybe that’s a discussion for another day, over to the book…
‘CrocAttack!’ by Assaf Gavron is a book that would have come to my attention without any help (though it was kindly sent by the publishers) as it is set in Israel, particularly Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, which I fell in love with when I went there last year. This book probably might not be the ideal holiday read to take on a trip there or before you go, as it looks at the terrorism seen in Israel, but its definitely one worth reading. I should make clear though that this book is set almost a decade ago when the Israeli/Palestine tensions and conflicts were at their most destructive and heightened.
Eitan Enoch is your average business man who is in a slightly turbulent relationship (his girlfriend Duchi is an interesting character) and in a steady average job being paid to save and find time for companies like the UK’s 118 118. On a normal routine bus ride to work in Tel Aviv one morning a fellow passenger begins to fret over a dark skinned man with a suit bag and believes he is a terrorist. Eitan, or ‘Croc’ to his friends, simply laughs it off. When the bus then explodes not long after he has dismounted and gotten the lift up to work Croc can’t believe what has happened. He also can’t believe it when he is involved in another set of terrorist attacks and neither can the public soon elevating him into being a national figure something the terrorists themselves want stopped.
If that wasn’t enough of a story line Gavron gives us another in alternating chapters which looks at the situation from a completely different angle, the mindset, feelings and driving forces of a terrorist. An initially unnamed young man lies in a coma unable to speak or communicate with the outside world, though he can understand what is going on around him, looking back at his life and how he came to be a suicide bomber and how his life came to that hospital bed at that time. Gavron goes through his emotions and feelings in a way that doesn’t make you sympathise with him at all but helps you to sort of understand him.
“To demonstrate, I disconnected the explosive from the electric circuit and connected a light bulb instead. I showed him how to connect the battery and he managed it after a few attempts. There was sweat on his brow. Bilhal went out to smoke, and when he returned I gave him a doubtful look. You have to be cooler than a cucumber in order to do something like this: you need frozen blood. You need to be a little bit crazy.”
It’s a place many readers won’t wish to go and indeed some may be horrified at the idea of (hence why this book has caused some controversy here and there) but if you are up to the challenge this is well worth it. It is also worth reading for the way the two narratives weave in and out and as you start to realise there is going to be a mammoth climax to the tale.
I realise I might have made it sound like this book is hard work or a struggle and it isn’t. The subject matter is dark and sometimes quite difficult but you feel you are in safe hands with Gavron, and despite some descriptions of the carnage a bomber leaves behind, nothing ever gets too graphic or goes too far. Basically it’s not a book that’s shocking for the sake of it. Nor is it a book that should be written off as simply ‘a darkly comic tale of terrorism’ as though in some places its funny it’s not a satire in anyway. It’s an incredibly intelligent, thought provoking, different and most importantly well written read that I would highly recommend giving a try.
I had the pleasure of listening to Gavron speak about it when I visited Jewish Book Week earlier this month and had the good fortune to have a quick chat with him after (more on that tomorrow) and get my copy signed.
I had started the book at the time, wanting to read it before he spoke, but then Book Group and the NTTVBG meant I popped it down but it stayed with me until I finally finished it last week however having now read it in its entirety it will stay with me much longer. I definitely want to watch out for the rest of Gavron’s back catalogue as it comes out in the UK, I am already a big fan.