A Day in the Life of Abed Salama
A TIME, NEW YORKER, FINANCIAL TIMES, ECONOMIST, IRISH TIMES AND NEW STATESMAN BOOK OF THE YEAR
LONGLISTED FOR THE BAILLIE GIFFORD PRIZE FOR NON-FICTION
‘A deeply immersive portrait of daily life in Israel and the West Bank’ The Best Books to Understand the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Financial Times
‘Brims over with just the sort of compassion and understanding that is needed at a time like this … when facts have become weapons in this seemingly endless conflict, this is a book that speaks with deep and authentic truth of ordinary lives trapped in the jaws of history’ Observer
A gripping, intimate story of one heartbreaking day in Palestine that reveals lives, loves, enmities, and histories in violent collision
Milad is five years old and excited for his school trip to a theme park on the outskirts of Jerusalem, but tragedy awaits: his bus is involved in a horrific accident. His father, Abed, rushes to the chaotic site, only to find Milad has already been taken away. Abed sets off on a journey to learn Milad’s fate, navigating a maze of physical, emotional, and bureaucratic obstacles he must face as a Palestinian.
Interwoven with Abed’s odyssey are the stories of Jewish and Palestinian characters whose lives and pasts unexpectedly converge: a kindergarten teacher and a mechanic who rescue children from the burning bus; an Israeli army commander and a Palestinian official who confront the aftermath at the scene of the crash; a settler paramedic; ultra-Orthodox emergency service workers; and two mothers who each hope to claim one severely injured boy.
A Day in the Life of Abed Salama is a deeply immersive, stunningly detailed portrait of life in Israel and Palestine, and an illumination of the reality of one of the most contested places on earth.
Nathan Thrall's book made me walk a lot. I found myself pacing around between chapters, paragraphs and sometimes even sentences just in order to be able to absorb the brutality, the pathos, the steely tenderness, and the sheer spectacle of the cunning and complex ways in which a state can hammer down a people and yet earn the applause and adulation of the civilized world for its actions -- Arundhati Roy It is hard to think of another book that gives such a poignant, deeply human face to the ongoing tragedy of Palestine. Thrall's evocation of both a terrible crisis and the daily humiliations of life under occupation is nothing short of heartbreaking -- Adam Hochschild This brilliant and heartbreaking book is a masterpiece. It reads like a novel, yet is all sadly true. I finished it in tears -- James Rebanks In this luminous story of Palestinians striving to live under Israeli rule, there is much cruelty. But there is also great love - of parents for their children, of lovers for their beloved, and of people for their home. This book is transformative -- Andre Aciman This impressive book brings the reader through a detailed set of human histories, relationships and experiences, all stemming out from one horrible incident and one Palestinian family affected by it. It shows us how everything in these Palestinians' daily lives - from the mundane to the catastrophic - has been controlled, contained and shaped under Israeli rule. Amid their struggle to survive, Nathan Thrall documents the best and worst of humanity: pride, bravery, love, stupidity, callousness and cruelty -- Sally Hayden A towering achievement. I've not read anything like it. Thrall takes the bureaucracy and infrastructure of apartheid and uses them to tell a painfully emotional, personal story -- Omar Robert Hamilton In excavating the site of a single tragedy, Nathan Thrall uncovers the sprawling architecture of oppression that dominates Palestinian lives. His writing propels the reader across a geography that is partitioned behind walls and into enclaves, revealing in visceral, human detail what Israeli subjugation means, and how it shapes the most intimate corners of the Palestinian experience. With empathy and grace, Thrall transforms this incomprehensible, avoidable loss into an ode to a father's love -- Tareq Baconi A brilliant and heart-wrenching book that captures the daily tragedy of Palestinian life under Israeli occupation better than any other I have read. An outstanding achievement and a must read -- Eugene Rogan Praise for the original NYRB article: I pray that Thrall's article will remind President Joe Biden of the courageous stance he took against apartheid in South Africa as a senator. I hope that it will provide a mirror which shows that the very same type of laws that he opposed in South Africa are now instrumental in oppressing Palestinians, from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean -- Archbishop Desmond Tutu Praise for original NYRB article: Beautifully written, even as it shares a devastating truth -- Michelle Alexander Praise for the original NYRB article: One of the best pieces I have read on Palestine -- J. M. Coetzee Praise for the original NYRB article: A strong article by Nathan Thrall-a very, very strong article -- Noam Chomsky Praise for the original NYRB article: Nathan Thrall's heart-wrenching essay lays bare the essential truth of Israel's occupation of the West Bank: Palestinians live under apartheid. And we in the U.S. subsidize this illegal operation to the tune of $3.8 billion a year. 'A Day in the Life of Abed Salama' needs to be read by everyone. Every word, from beginning to end. And then we need to do something about it -- Robin D. G. Kelley
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