A Pigeon and a Boy By Meir Shalev Schocken 320 pages; $25
Grandpa Aaron and His Rain By Meir Shalev Am Oved 28 pages; NIS 59
Meir Shalev did not plan to be an author, but his mother, hoping he would, carefully selected his reading material.
"She used to say, 'A pregnant woman shouldn't stare at monkeys,'" laughs Shalev, recalling an old Russian phrase. "She made sure I read only good literature, like Mark Twain, Sholem Aleichem, Charles Dickens, Erich Kastner. If I wanted to read Hasamba [a series of adventure books by Yigal Musinzon], I had to sneak over to the neighbor's house and read it there.
"There was no censorship in the house I grew up in, and by the age of 14 my father had brought me Lolita [by Vladimir Nabokov] and said, 'Here, this is a book about a girl your age.' No parent back then let his child read this book at that age, but my father thought it was a masterpiece and that I should read it."