Shtetl Love Song Review

Thanks to Noir Press for giving me a free copy of Shtetl Love Song for a honest review.


Grigory Kanovich’s autobiographical novel ‘Shtetl Love Song’ is based on real events from the life of the author’s family and the small town characters that peopled the world of his early years. It has been described as being a requiem for the pre-war Lithuanian Jewish shtetl.

In ‘Shtetl Love Song’ Grigory Kanovich writes about his mother, and in doing so peels back the surface of the rich community that lived in pre-war Lithuania. It is a requiem for the pre-war Jewish shtetl, for a people and a way of life that was destroyed.
Shtetl Love Song won the Liudo Dovydeno Prize awarded by the Lithuanian Writers’ Union.


Review: Shtetl Love Song is a not the kind of book I usually read. I usually stick to YA fantasy mostly, but when Noir Press asked me to read it, I was like ‘Sure…why not?’ And I don’t regret that decision. 

For starters this book has a heavy emotional weight to it, as the author states: this is his final book and the book he’s been meaning to write his entire life. The story follows his young mother’s life and though the author is in the story, it is mainly focussed on his parents and their struggles.  

It’s a biography which isn’t really the type of the book I’m used to. Lives don’t normally have action packed scenes and three-act structure. It makes it a much slower and easy-going read. Which given what I’m used to, I wasn’t expecting to work. 

However, I was pleasantly surprised. It’s very engrossing read. There are definitely bits where it lulls and it’s clear that the author is trying to be as close to the truth of life as possible, but in book form it makes for a couple of dull chapters. But the rest of it was a pretty good evening read and I enjoyed reading about such a fascinating time and place, especially when you know these people and lives were real. It adds a lot to the reading experience.  

Conclusion: This was a beautiful read, with an amass of well-rounded driven characters and easy plot that I think you should check out. 


Buy the book!

‘Shtetl Love Song’ by Grigory Kanovich
Noir Press
ISBN: 978-0995560024

Am I just a bad Reader?

So I’ve never liked reading. I like writing. reading? Not so much. I hate books as soon as I read the first words on principle. Partly because reading is hard for me. So maybe that’s what’s wrong with reading August 1914 by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.

Plot: Primarily following Colonel Vorotyntsev, a General Staff officer sent by the Grand Duke‘s (supreme commander, Russian Army) headquarters to the Russian Second Army invading East Prussia under command of General Alexander Samsonov. Distances were so great, communications so poor, and the Russian Army so badly prepared for war, Voroyntsev was sent to find out all he could about conditions at the front and then report back to the Grand Duke. By August 26, the opening day of the 4-day Battle of Tannenberg, Vorotyntsev comes to realize that he cannot return to his headquarters in time to make any difference in the outcome of the battle, and stays with the Second Army to help out where he is able to. There are numerous side plots involving other characters, both on the battlefield and elsewhere, fill out this great historical novel.

I did actually enjoy this book, (I swear). the characters felt human, their struggles genuine and the actual battles felt very real. given it’s set in the first world war, a lot of the ‘battles’ involve a lot of waiting through bomb shell attacks.

my problems with the book is just…it’s weird. while it mostly follows Vorotyntsev, but the beginning of the two follows characters never brought up again. some chapters randomly come back to Moscow and are very political. I can’t tell if this book has way too many plot lines, something very normal for the time it was writing, or if I’m too dumb.

Either way, I really did mostly enjoy with book, it was confusing with its plotlines but I loved the way it’s creates these environments and these people.