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A chorus of lyrical voices singing hopefully about a most contentious, divisive, and violent situation.

Two co-founders of the Palestine Festival of Literature (PalFest), mother and son, collect an array of emotional pieces from this international gathering of writers begun in 2008.

Editors Soueif (Cairo: Memoir of a City Transformed, 2014, etc.) and Hamilton (The City Always Wins, 2017, etc.) begin and end the collection—she with an introduction and an essay; he with the longest piece, which encapsulates the conference since 2008. There are some poems, as well, including Suheir Hammad’s affecting “The Gaza Suite,” whose sections are distributed throughout. The collection includes plenty of notable writers familiar to Western readers: the late Henning Mankell, Geoff Dyer, Alice Walker, and Chinua Achebe, whose offerings range from tributes to the PalFest itself to accounts of their own experiences attending. There is also a touching account of Richard Ford’s nearly breaking down while reading a Seamus Heaney poem. Most of the writers, though, are from the region, and their messages—oft repeated—are clear: Israel is, in their view, basically running an open-air prison; countless innocent civilians, including many children, have died; Israel is in the process of erasing the evidence of many generations of inhabitants. These, of course, are not messages that will attract Israel’s many supporters, but others in the West—who, as some of the authors here point out, know little about the conflict—will no doubt be alarmed at the vast array of grim detail and example. Although the writers concur that Israel is doing something awful, there are few allusions to a violent response. Instead, the writers express the belief that words will be the things with feathers that will eventually bring attention—and peace. Other notable contributors include J.M. Coetzee, Raja Shehadeh, Michael Ondaatje, Claire Messud, Teju Cole, Pankaj Mishra, and Kamila Shamsie.

A chorus of lyrical voices singing hopefully about a most contentious, divisive, and violent situation.

Pub Date: July 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-63286-884-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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