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A Meal in Winter

A Meal in Winter [Kindle Edition]

Hubert Mingarelli , Sam Taylor
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £7.99
Kindle Price: £4.12 includes VAT* & free wireless delivery via Amazon Whispernet
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Product Description


A masterpiece. --'The 50 best winter reads', Independent

This is the most moving book I have read for a long time... Mingarelli's subject matter is supremely dark, but against all the odds, he manages to offer us a positive message. The moral complexity of the story contrasts with its straightforward delivery. Mingarelli's spare language is well suited to this luminous tale, [in which]he accomplishes a great deal. --Independent on Sunday

Beautiful and disturbing, complex and surprising... This is not easy for the reader to handle, but Mingarelli knows what he is doing. --Herald

This strong and simple story packs a mighty punch. --The Times

Beautiful and disturbing, complex and surprising... This is not easy for the reader to handle, but Mingarelli knows what he is doing. --Herald

Masterful... Mingarelli offers a new twist on the Holocaust novel. His spare prose, crisply translated by Sam Taylor, adds to the narrative's intensity and keeps you turning the pages until its poignant conclusion. --Huffington Post

Beautiful and disturbing, complex and surprising... This is not easy for the reader to handle, but Mingarelli knows what he is doing. --Herald

A Meal in Winter delivers a powerful punch and examines the complicity of ordinary soldiers in extraordinary acts of brutality. --'Books of the Year', Tablet

Beautiful and disturbing, complex and surprising... This is not easy for the reader to handle, but Mingarelli knows what he is doing. --Herald

'Short, powerful, vivid and utterly compelling' --Jewish Chronicle

Beautiful and disturbing, complex and surprising... This is not easy for the reader to handle, but Mingarelli knows what he is doing. --Herald

Product Description

One morning, in the dead of winter, three German soldiers head out into the frozen Polish countryside. They have been charged by their commanders to track down and bring back for execution 'one of them' - a Jew. Having flushed out a young man hiding in the woods, they decide to rest in an abandoned house before continuing their journey back to the camp. As they prepare food, they are joined by a passing Pole whose virulent anti-Semitism adds tension to an already charged atmosphere. Before long, the group's sympathies begin to splinter as each man is forced to confont his own conscienence as the moral implications of their murderous mission become clear.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 374 KB
  • Print Length: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Portobello Books (7 Nov 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00D2JDNP0
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #6,264 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition
This is a tricky book, because it is (comparatively speaking) overpriced, at £12.99 for around 130 pages of prose for the current hardback (more on this in a bit), and yet it is a sensational, highly unique piece of prose. Three German soldiers are stationed with their company in a farm in Poland. It is winter, bitterly cold, they are underfed and their morale is low. Most days they are given the task of shooting Jewish people, and can only get out of this duty by being picked to go out to hunt for Jews in the surrounding frozen woods and fields. This is a story about the lesser of two evils, about human beings, not monsters, who are preoccupied with the needs of warmth and food and the fierce desire to have a day off from executing people. Mingarelli performs a brilliant tightrope feat in this novel(la?), never forgiving the three soldiers, but instead putting the onus on us, the reader, making us think about what we would do.

Sam Taylor's translation is an example of fantastic writing, spare, emotional, and driven forward by the needs of stomach and skin. I don't think I've ever read a novel from the viewpoint of a soldier actively involved in the Holocaust, which is rather remarkable when it has such are large influence on post-WW2 literatures.

I'd wait for the paperback, though. Such a slim novel doesn't need to be hardback, and actually it just didn't work well either, especially when trying to flick back to bits read earlier. A small gripe, and I have no problem paying that much for a book (as I obviously did), but it is worth mentioning I think. The short time-frame covered and lean prose really does suit the shorter style, and I think I will be digesting this one for far longer than I will some of the longer novels I have read in the past.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I kept thinking the cornmeal would thicken.... 23 May 2014
By A Ryder
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This novella describes a day in the life of 3 German soldiers during a Polish winter in WWII. I've just read 2 other shortish novels on WWII: 'Chasing the King of Hearts' - also in translation - and 'The Undertaking' and this is a good companion volume. The soldiers here are participants in an early incarnation of the holocaust, i.e. before the systemic genocide of Auschwitz and the other camps. Their daily task seems to be to shoot Jewish people whom they've captured, and these 3 'ordinary' men would rather sneak out without breakfast into sub-zero temperatures to hunt for potential prisoners than have to actually shoot them.

The writing is spare and vivid in its description of cold, hunger and fatigue, and the ironic anxiety of worrying about your family suffering without you in another country when you are inflicting needless suffering on others. Everything is loaded with significance, from the partially-melted frost in a copse to the chimney flue blocked by a dead animal. Like the makeshift soup cooked by the men, though, this failed to completely assuage my hunger. I can see why the narrative is so restricted and think it benefits from its focus on the personal, immediate experiences of these few men, cogs in a wheel of epic proportions, and their dilemma. In that sense, with the self-delusions and the mental sleights-of-hand they employ to keep themselves going, it almost reminded me of 'Waiting for Godot': their acts, while making perfect sense in the moment, are ultimately destructive. Where I wanted the story to open out was in finding out the long-term implications. Avoiding any spoilers, there are references to a later event, but it is somewhat sketchy and doesn't get expanded on, just reiterated.

I'm aware that this may say more about me than the book. Life, after all, is often hard to make sense of. As a snapshot of 5 people (again, no spoilers) involved in an atrocity, it is subtly powerful and a (rightly) sad and disturbing read.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intense and Atmospheric 9 Nov 2013
French writer, Hubert Mingarelli's first novel to be translated into English, takes us to Poland during the Second World War, where we find ourselves in a concentration camp in the dead of winter. Three German soldiers: Bauer, Emmerich and the unnamed narrator of this story, manage to temporarily escape the daily shootings of Jewish inmates, by volunteering to go out and track down any Jews who might be hiding in the Polish countryside, telling their commander that they would "rather do the hunting than the shootings". Out one morning, after trudging for hours through the snow in bitingly cold conditions, they flush out a young man hiding in a hole in the ground in the woods, and they are relieved that they do not have to go back to the camp empty-handed and find themselves back on duty exterminating the prisoners. Freezing cold, tired and hungry, the three soldiers decide to rest in a small, abandoned house before journeying back to the camp. While they are building a fire to cook their provisions, a Polish hunter arrives on the scene and, although he does not speak German, it is obvious to the three soldiers, from his reaction to the young Jew, that he is violently anti-Semitic, which causes tensions to rise even further. There, in this abandoned hovel, warmed by the food and the potato alcohol that the Pole offers them in return for a share of their food, the three men begin to ponder on the moral implications of their mission and are forced to confront their own consciences. Are they doing the right thing in capturing this young Jewish man and sacrificing his life in order to gain privileges from their camp commander - or is there another way out of their predicament? Read more ›
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Short, powerful and very moving.
This book made me think of the degradation of war and the way that perspectives are changed. I was very moved by the story and the writer transported me to the world inhabited by... Read more
Published 6 hours ago by Gillian Thompson
3.0 out of 5 stars May be its meant to be short but its just too short...
A short and emotional war-related book, a little bit too short and ends awkwardly right after the climax, I would expect a bit more on this topic...
Published 2 days ago by Simon
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Short but sweet. Only takes about an hour max. to read but is gently thought provoking.
Published 5 days ago by B Bennett
5.0 out of 5 stars Must Read Book
A brilliant book, it shows how people can their thoughts.

I completed it in one sitting.
Published 9 days ago by mlotho49
3.0 out of 5 stars Not up to the reviews for this reader
I was expecting something really special because of the many laudatory reviews of this novella, but I'm afraid I was a little disappointed. Read more
Published 10 days ago by Frances Stott
5.0 out of 5 stars It illustrates both the best and the worst of humanity
It illustrates both the best and the worst of humanity. I wonder how any of us would have reacted, as ordinary people caught up in extraordinary circumstances. Read more
Published 24 days ago by Peter Catlow
4.0 out of 5 stars but not as brilliant as I was led to expect from the reviews ...
Moving and thought-provoking, but not as brilliant as I was led to expect from the reviews i read which persuaded me to buy it.
Published 1 month ago by Mr. Christopher Dann
3.0 out of 5 stars Short
Well written and interesting angle on a very well established subject. However, was rather surprised when it ended (I thought I was half way through on my Kindle) into my second... Read more
Published 1 month ago by J. I. G. Buttle
3.0 out of 5 stars WWII novella
This short novel (135 pages) deals with three German soldiers trying to avoid staying in camp in Poland where they possibly would have to shoot Jews. Read more
Published 2 months ago by PaulAllard
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it!
A fairly short book 200-300 pages, but it sucks you right in. Atmospheric and revealing, always keeps you thinking, putting yourself in the place of each character. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Kera Sage
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