A wickedly ironic but humane collection.

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DISPATCHES FROM AN ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN LIFE

A journalist and novelist’s sharp-eyed take on his life as a Hebrew-speaking Palestinian in Jerusalem.

In this collection of columns for Haaretz, a weekly Israeli newspaper, Kashua (Israel Studies/Univ. of Illinois; Second Person Singular, 2012, etc.) illuminates the condition of Palestinians in Israel by offering humorous, and at times painful, anecdotes about his own life. In the opening essay, the author establishes the satiric tone that characterizes the text, poking fun at himself as “a chronic liar [and] gossip” by assuming the voice of his long-suffering wife. Kashua then goes on to detail the inconveniences that his family suffers as ethnic and religious minorities in Jerusalem. Believers in a bicultural, bilingual Israel, the author and his wife found their ideals under constant siege. In “High Tech,” for example, he describes an outing with his young daughter when he told her she could speak Arabic “everywhere, anytime [she] want[ed], but not at the entrance to a mall,” which was protected by heavily armed Israeli security guards. His deeper anxieties about being a minority are apparent in such essays as “Taking Notice.” There, he tells the story of a sign he put up at the all-Jewish apartment complex where he and his upwardly mobile family moved. The possibility of not being accepted by his neighbors bothered him so much that he worried incessantly about everything, including whether he was using proper Hebrew phrases and handwriting techniques. Yet the careful moderation he practiced while living in a country hostile to Palestinians offered him neither peace nor safety from either “Israelis who hurl accusations of betrayal and disloyalty…[or] Arabs who hurl accusations of betrayal and segregation.” Eventually, Kashua and his family moved to the United States, where they faced “another type of society and the inevitable acclimatization problems.” By turns funny, angry, and moving, Kashua’s "dispatches" offer revealing glimpses into the meanings of family and fatherhood and provide keen insight into the deeply rooted complexities of a tragic conflict.

A wickedly ironic but humane collection.

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8021-2455-5

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Grove

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2015

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An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

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BECOMING

The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

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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

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