City of Thieves is a fictional retelling of Benioff’s grandfather’s life during the siege at Leningrad during WWII. Lev, then a teenager, finds himself in a world of trouble after discovering a dead German paratrooper in the street. He then meets a charming and hilarious soldier named Kolya, who is also in trouble, and the two of them set out on a ridiculous and nearly impossible mission.
The book is both tragic and funny. The same page can bring horror (what people do to survive starvation is shocking) and laughter, but Benioff handles it deftly. I highly recommend this book. It’d been a while since I was pulled so fully into a novel, and I’d missed that feeling. Plus there are a few bonuses: you learn a little history, geography, and Russian culture from reading this. Isn’t that nice?