Waking Lions

Waking Lions by Ayelet Gundar-Goshen, and Sondra Silverston

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By Ayelet Gundar-Goshen, and and, Sondra Silverston

avg rating

11 reviews


10 Jul 2016


About 50% of our book club finished reading the book. There was a difference of opinion regarding the style of writing some of us liked it, but some found it irritating, probably because this was a translation.
We felt that an accident on a totally unlit road was understandable and we could not understand why, since he was apparently so moralistic, he found the need to lie about it and leave the scene. However it does show that we cannot know how we would react in any given situation.
We also felt that, as he had a good relationship with his wife, that he would have told her. Although we wondered how she did not find out that he had reduced their bank account by such a lot of money.
This moral man also stooped to stealing from the hospital to get supplies for his secret clinic, which seemed to be out of character for him.
We felt that he allowed Sirkit to do many things that should only have been done by a doctor. Not a good idea!
Keeping it to himself ruined his family and his career. However he did ride off into the sunset at the end of the book, still a successful doctor, but Sirkit was in danger of being deported.
After a discussion we felt that on all levels, this book was not believable.
We scored the book very differently, ranging from 3 – 9 averaging out to 5

06 Jun 2016

Our Book Club found this story captivating at the beginning with a good plot and compelling storyline. However, some found it difficult to remember the characters and struggled to get the sense of it being set in Israel.
In conclusion we found it engrossing but a bit overwritten, slightly let down by the writing in the last chapters, and the ending was disappointing.
Great potential for discussion though – moral dilemmas, domestic abuse, racial prejudice, secrets, and more.

11 May 2016

This book split opinions in our reading group. Some of us loved it, and some couldn't get further than 100 pages. The main issue we found with the book was not the story but the style of writing, the nostalgic way Gundar-Goshen describes the characters, scenery etc. with details that did not feel relevant. To some of us in our group, this filler distracted from the story. It created a disagreement as to what characters were actually like, was Eitan ever a good man? Is his wife as strong a character as Sirkit?

The Story itself we all agreed was good, and we enjoyed the twists and turns. I myself was one of those who didn't really enjoy Gundar-Goshen's writing style but skimmed through the story and enjoyed what I picked up.

10 May 2016


Waking Lions by Ayelet Gundar-Goshen is an interesting thought provoking story set in modern day Israel. It involves the death of an Eritraen man by a young Israeli doctor and explores many issues; morality, racism, power, corruption, guilt, love. The story is told in the third person which enables the reader to stand back slightly from the emotions in the book. It's also a very descriptive story which I often find a bit boring but in this case it all worked very well.

I enjoyed this book very much and would recommend it.

28 Apr 2016

St Regulus AJ

This is a gripping read. How one error can lead to lives changing forever. Interestingly, whodunnit is never in question, but the manipulation of a life for reasons other than you anticipate is clever. Retribution is exacted and some twists in the narrative were wholly unexpected.

17 Apr 2016

I enjoyed this book. It was well written, thought provoking with a complex, compelling storyline set in an Israelian society about which I previously knew little. I enjoyed the author's previous novel, One Night Markovitch and this second novel fully lived up to my expectations.

15 Apr 2016

Susie D

A bit of a slow-burner this read and I was surprised at how much it stayed with me after I had finished it; I enjoyed it more than I thought. It raises interesting issues that normally would not cross my radar being worlds away from what I know. Waking Lions mixes the experiences of refugees with a kind of whodunit tale and thriller. The last third of the book really picks up the pace and I felt myself more engaged with the story from this point on. It's a very different experience from Ayelet's first book 'One Night Markovitch' which is terrific but well worth a read nevertheless.

13 Apr 2016

An absorbing read, very well written with lovely descriptions making one feel part of the plot. At times, in the middle of the book, it was a little slow and meandering. It was realistic and insightful and made one think and believe this could happen to anyone and made me consider what I would do in the circumstances. The end was not as I expected, I felt certain Eitan had no other choice than to take responsibility for his actions and potentially ruin his career and domestic life but due to the deception of Sirkit and her subsequent support of him and his actions, he got away with it, interesting end highlighting the corruption and attitude that prevails in this country.

13 Apr 2016


I enjoyed this book immensely. A book I couldn’t put down. Something fresh and stimulating and the prose beautifully written. An intelligent book.
I found the plot original and current; topical and both informed and informing. The themes of guilt and shame are explored with frankness and compassion and whilst the characters analyse themselves the book makes no judgements. The themes of displacement and struggle in a barren place, both actual and metaphorical, mediate the violence of extreme existence. How do we know what we are capable of? We in fact know not how humane or inhumane we might be faced with stark choices; how strong or how weak. This book asks us to acknowledge our unknowing of ourselves.
I found that I could identify with all the main characters which does not often happen in a book. All their situations and stories Ayelet reveals in sufficient depth to make you want to know a little more; to reflect on your own story and empathise. The characters are all tragic at a level, all with their vulnerability, rawness and sinfulness laid bare.

In Waking Lions Ayelet has captured a feeling of war and yet it is peacetime Israel; a modern country in a modern time. It reminds us that all places at all times have trauma and outcasts; war and peace.

18 Mar 2016


Waking Lions is a beautifully translated, slow-burning drama that raises lots of moral dilemmas and was great as a reading group book. It's about an honest, well-meaning surgeon being made to pay for a hit and run that the dead man's wife witnessed. We weren't convinced, given the described moral strength of both the surgeon and his detective wife, that they would either have been banished in the first place or would have left the Eritrean to die. There were other aspects of the story that also felt a little contrived, and at times it was quite wordy, but putting all that aside it's a well written ripping yarn with a bit of a twist towards the end. As more and more was revealed about the seedier side of Israeli life, the treatment of refugees and the way they're forced to live, all of which was new to our reading group members, moral dilemmas were being raised constantly which forced us to engage with the narrative and led to some lively discussion.
Apart from the obvious "What would you have done?" there was much to be discussed including racism, migration, refugees, drug trafficking, the role of the health service and the welfare state.

16 Mar 2016


I found the book a really compelling read, unusual as we knew "who done it" from the start. The unusual setting in an unfamiliar area of Israel and the racial mix with the Eritreans, Bedouins Arabs and Israelis made me question my own assumptions. The way the groups treated each other and the domestic abuse was quite shocking - as was the Africans' acceptance of their lot.

I couldn't see how Eitan was going to get out of his predicament and expected him to come clean. The links with the drug trading and the way it tainted Sirkit was a clever storyline. I certainly expected her to come out as honourable. I am interested in why she didn't spill the beans on Eitan at the end, which would have probably been more plausible.

I did wonder how the red SUV which he didn't really like and had been shot through and crashed was resurrected for the final visit to see Sirkit but thought this was a symbol of life going on.

A really enjoyable and stimulating read!


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