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CrocAttack! (Paperback) by Assaf Gavron, book reviewCrocAttack! by Assaf Gavron is a novel set in the midst of the Israel/Palestine conflict, and focuses on suicide bomb attacks made in Israeli cities such as Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. The novel opens with our “hero” Eitan, known as Croc, travelling to work in Tel Aviv on the Little No. 5 – a minibus which follows the route of the No. 5 but which his girlfriend Duchi believes to be safer. Another passenger is concerned about a man in a suit carrying a bag, but Croc thinks there is nothing to worry about. Shortly after he gets off the bus, the man detonates a suicide bomb. This is the start of a string of events, all of which Croc seems to be caught up in.

Croc is not the only narrator. He alternates with Fahmi, whose role and situation is not immediately clear – although we quickly learn he does not like Jews. I hadn’t read the blurb on the back of the book very thoroughly, so I actually realised who he was on my own, but the blurb does reveal his role. Fahmi’s narration is taking place in what we might call the present of the novel, while Croc’s narration recounts the events leading up to the situation Fahmi now finds himself in.

“I enjoyed CrocAttack!, and was surprised by what an easy and enjoyable read it was.”

You may think that this is not a light novel, nor an enjoyable or relaxing read. However, while CrocAttack! does certainly deal with very serious matters, Gavron has injected some life into his writing. Croc is a good lead character, at first a bit confused by what is going on around him, and then quite obsessive about getting to the bottom of it. Muslim Fahmi is a contrast to Croc, in that he is angry with life, but his beliefs are tempered next to those of his brother who is a much stricter Muslim and wants nothing to do with Israel or the West, and even sees drinking Coca Cola as a betrayal of the cause.

In addition to the characters, although there are serious and devastating events occurring through CrocAttack!, life also goes on. Croc is nagged by his girlfriend and has problems at work, just like everyone else. Life for Fahmi isn’t quite so normal, but his expedition across the desert on a donkey does provide a little bit of light relief.

I started reading CrocAttack! with what is probably appallingly little knowledge of the issues in that part of the world, but I don’t feel that hindered my understanding of the novel. On the other hand I don’t feel that I have come away with more understanding than I had. However, Gavron does present a very balanced picture of the two sides to this conflict: while I disliked the bombers for what they were doing, I felt that from the way their lives were depicted that they had genuine grievances, although maybe they weren’t going about solving them in the right way.

I enjoyed CrocAttack!, and was surprised by what an easy and enjoyable read it was. Yet it was more than a good book – it made me think about Israel and Palestine, and what ordinary people have lived through there.

CrocAttack! by Assaf Gavron
Published by Fourth Estate, Jan 2011
Many thanks to Fourth Estate for providing a review copy of CrocAttack!

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by Assaf Gavron

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Written by eilidhcatriona

A Scottish lass in her late twenties living in London. A prolific reader always interested in something new.

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