A moving memoir of the far-reaching challenges of life in the Middle East.

GOING HOME

A WALK THROUGH FIFTY YEARS OF OCCUPATION

A longtime resident of Ramallah, Palestine, reflects on the city’s transformation.

Orwell Prize–winning writer, lawyer, and human rights advocate Shehadeh (Where the Line Is Drawn: A Tale of Crossings, Friendships, and Fifty Years of Occupation in Israel-Palestine, 2017, etc.) interweaves personal revelations and political history in a candid, nostalgic reflection on life in Ramallah, where he grew up and has lived for the last 50 years. Walking around his neighborhood on the 50th anniversary of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, he recalls a place far different from the crowded, urbanized city of today. Ramallah, he writes, “used to have the charm and atmosphere of the mountain villages of Lebanon.” Store owners would keep caged songbirds outside their shops; their gentle chirping could be heard by everyone. Now, “their song has been replaced by the noise of traffic.” Parks have given way to high-rise developments, traffic-clogged crossroads, and commercial buildings: “In the past, it did not matter that there were no designated green areas in Ramallah, situated as it was in a large natural garden of its own.” Now the city is bereft of quiet places of respite. Even more crucial, Ramallah struggles under Israeli dominance and aggression, which have fomented anger and hatred and altered the city and culture dramatically. Shehadeh worked tenaciously to get rid of the occupation, but after the first Oslo Accord, which failed to create a Palestinian state, he has felt only resignation. His human rights activism has felt futile, leaving him to adjust to a deteriorating political situation as the occupation intensified and Israeli settlements expanded. While much of the population has grown up under the occupation, the author remembers another world and regrets its loss. The occupation, he writes, “has walked with me like a shadow, stalking me, sometimes posing a challenge but more often a threat.”

A moving memoir of the far-reaching challenges of life in the Middle East.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-62097-577-0

Page Count: 224

Publisher: The New Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

NIGHT

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

Did you like this book?

A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular...

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

Google Rating

  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2016

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • Pulitzer Prize Finalist

WHEN BREATH BECOMES AIR

A neurosurgeon with a passion for literature tragically finds his perfect subject after his diagnosis of terminal lung cancer.

Writing isn’t brain surgery, but it’s rare when someone adept at the latter is also so accomplished at the former. Searching for meaning and purpose in his life, Kalanithi pursued a doctorate in literature and had felt certain that he wouldn’t enter the field of medicine, in which his father and other members of his family excelled. “But I couldn’t let go of the question,” he writes, after realizing that his goals “didn’t quite fit in an English department.” “Where did biology, morality, literature and philosophy intersect?” So he decided to set aside his doctoral dissertation and belatedly prepare for medical school, which “would allow me a chance to find answers that are not in books, to find a different sort of sublime, to forge relationships with the suffering, and to keep following the question of what makes human life meaningful, even in the face of death and decay.” The author’s empathy undoubtedly made him an exceptional doctor, and the precision of his prose—as well as the moral purpose underscoring it—suggests that he could have written a good book on any subject he chose. Part of what makes this book so essential is the fact that it was written under a death sentence following the diagnosis that upended his life, just as he was preparing to end his residency and attract offers at the top of his profession. Kalanithi learned he might have 10 years to live or perhaps five. Should he return to neurosurgery (he could and did), or should he write (he also did)? Should he and his wife have a baby? They did, eight months before he died, which was less than two years after the original diagnosis. “The fact of death is unsettling,” he understates. “Yet there is no other way to live.”

A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular clarity.

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8129-8840-6

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more