Deeply unsettling, important stories call for urgent responses to the Middle East conflict.




On the 50th anniversary of Israeli occupation of Palestine, top writers bear witness to oppression and despair.

When Waldman (A Really Good Day: How Microdosing Made a Mega Difference in My Mood, My Marriage, and My Life, 2017, etc.) visited Israel for the Jerusalem International Writers Festival in 2014, she met members of the nonprofit groups Breaking the Silence and Youth Against Settlements, who helped her to understand “the massive, often brutal, always dehumanizing military bureaucracy” that defines the occupation. Hoping to focus attention on the desperate situation, she and her husband, Pulitzer Prize–winning novelist Chabon (Moonglow, 2016, etc.), invited an international roster of writers to tour towns and villages in the Israeli-occupied territories and meet with community organizers, workers, artists, activists, farmers, and families, as well as Israeli settlers and disillusioned soldiers. Their responses to those visits are moving, heartbreaking, and infuriating, testifying to the chilling cruelty of Israel’s policy toward Palestinians. Even Palestinians given Israeli citizenship are vulnerable to “demographic transfer”—or “forced displacement” in order “to achieve the ‘purity’ of ‘the Jewish state,’ ” writes Palestinian-born, British-educated Fida Jiryis. “One can only wonder at the sadistic ingenuity with which Israel has woven an airtight system around us to suffocate every aspect of our lives.” Walls are a recurrent image: they keep Palestinians in their crumbling towns and separate farmers from their land, workers from their jobs, and family members from one another. Gaza, writes Dave Eggers, “is a prison” with a 40-mile, 25-foot wall on its northern border with Israel and the heavily patrolled Mediterranean on the west. Checkpoints require elaborate documentation, which takes countless hours to assemble. As Chabon notes, “control of time is one of the biggest weapons of the occupation.” Young soldiers wield deadly power capriciously; houses are evacuated and razed in the middle of the night; a refugee camp has “no infrastructure of any kind.” Among the most well-known contributors are Geraldine Brooks, Mario Vargas Llosa, Colum McCann, and Jacqueline Woodson; royalties will go to NGOs.

Deeply unsettling, important stories call for urgent responses to the Middle East conflict.

Pub Date: May 30, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-243178-3

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Perennial/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2019

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller


Title notwithstanding, this latest from the National Book Award–winning author is no guidebook to getting woke.

In fact, the word “woke” appears nowhere within its pages. Rather, it is a combination memoir and extension of Atlantic columnist Kendi’s towering Stamped From the Beginning (2016) that leads readers through a taxonomy of racist thought to anti-racist action. Never wavering from the thesis introduced in his previous book, that “racism is a powerful collection of racist policies that lead to racial inequity and are substantiated by racist ideas,” the author posits a seemingly simple binary: “Antiracism is a powerful collection of antiracist policies that lead to racial equity and are substantiated by antiracist ideas.” The author, founding director of American University’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center, chronicles how he grew from a childhood steeped in black liberation Christianity to his doctoral studies, identifying and dispelling the layers of racist thought under which he had operated. “Internalized racism,” he writes, “is the real Black on Black Crime.” Kendi methodically examines racism through numerous lenses: power, biology, ethnicity, body, culture, and so forth, all the way to the intersectional constructs of gender racism and queer racism (the only section of the book that feels rushed). Each chapter examines one facet of racism, the authorial camera alternately zooming in on an episode from Kendi’s life that exemplifies it—e.g., as a teen, he wore light-colored contact lenses, wanting “to be Black but…not…to look Black”—and then panning to the history that informs it (the antebellum hierarchy that valued light skin over dark). The author then reframes those received ideas with inexorable logic: “Either racist policy or Black inferiority explains why White people are wealthier, healthier, and more powerful than Black people today.” If Kendi is justifiably hard on America, he’s just as hard on himself. When he began college, “anti-Black racist ideas covered my freshman eyes like my orange contacts.” This unsparing honesty helps readers, both white and people of color, navigate this difficult intellectual territory.

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-50928-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

A clear and candid contribution to an essential conversation.


Straight talk to blacks and whites about the realities of racism.

In her feisty debut book, Oluo, essayist, blogger, and editor at large at the Establishment magazine, writes from the perspective of a black, queer, middle-class, college-educated woman living in a “white supremacist country.” The daughter of a white single mother, brought up in largely white Seattle, she sees race as “one of the most defining forces” in her life. Throughout the book, Oluo responds to questions that she has often been asked, and others that she wishes were asked, about racism “in our workplace, our government, our homes, and ourselves.” “Is it really about race?” she is asked by whites who insist that class is a greater source of oppression. “Is police brutality really about race?” “What is cultural appropriation?” and “What is the model minority myth?” Her sharp, no-nonsense answers include talking points for both blacks and whites. She explains, for example, “when somebody asks you to ‘check your privilege’ they are asking you to pause and consider how the advantages you’ve had in life are contributing to your opinions and actions, and how the lack of disadvantages in certain areas is keeping you from fully understanding the struggles others are facing.” She unpacks the complicated term “intersectionality”: the idea that social justice must consider “a myriad of identities—our gender, class, race, sexuality, and so much more—that inform our experiences in life.” She asks whites to realize that when people of color talk about systemic racism, “they are opening up all of that pain and fear and anger to you” and are asking that they be heard. After devoting most of the book to talking, Oluo finishes with a chapter on action and its urgency. Action includes pressing for reform in schools, unions, and local governments; boycotting businesses that exploit people of color; contributing money to social justice organizations; and, most of all, voting for candidates who make “diversity, inclusion and racial justice a priority.”

A clear and candid contribution to an essential conversation.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-58005-677-9

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Seal Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2017

Did you like this book?