Book review: "City of Thieves" 

During the siege of Leningrad, 17-year-old Lev Beniov is arrested for looting a dead German soldier. Along with a fellow prisoner, he's tasked with the impossible: finding a dozen eggs. If they don't find these eggs -- to be used in a wedding cake of a Soviet colonel's daughter -- they lose their ration cards. This is the skeleton of the plot of City of Thieves, a novel by American writer David Benioff, which was recently released in paperback. Purportedly relating to the experiences of Benioff's grandfather during the siege, City of Thieves has the sophistication of a prototypical Russian novel (but not the length) and a cinematic feel. It also masterfully balances comedy with tragedy and is saturated with a bawdy sexuality that you would never find in, say, something by Tolstoy. Benioff's last novel, The 25th Hour, was made into a movie that was directed by Spike Lee. So when and if you see City of Thieves under the heading "Coming Soon," don't be surprised.

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