A groundbreaking collection of essays by celebrated international writers bears witness to the human cost of fifty years of Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.
In Kingdom of Olives and Ash, Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldman, two of today's most renowned novelists and essayists, have teamed up with the Israeli NGO Breaking the Silence—an organization comprised of former Israeli soldiers who served in the occupied territories and saw firsthand the injustice there—and a host of illustrious writers to tell the stories of the people on the ground in the contested territories.
Kingdom of Olives and Ash includes contributions from several of today’s most esteemed storytellers including: Colum McCann, Jacqueline Woodson, Colm Toibin, Geraldine Brooks, Dave Eggers, Hari Kunzru, Raja Shehadeh, Mario Vargas Llosa and Assaf Gavron, as well as from editors Chabon and Waldman. Through these incisive, perceptive, and poignant essays, readers will gain unique insight into the narratives behind the litany of grim destruction broadcasted nightly on the news, as well as deeper understanding of the conflict as experienced by the people who live in the occupied territories. Together, these stories stand witness to the human cost of the occupation.
Authors Waldman and Chabon, together with the Israeli NGO Breaking the Silence, a group of former soldiers who served in the West Bank and Gaza, have compiled a hefty volume of essays about life in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories. The results vary, but the message is unwavering: life under occupation is frightening and oppressive. Strong efforts include Geraldine Brooks's opening piece, about two Palestinian children caught up in cyclical violence. Rachel Kushner draws out the unsavory subject of Palestinian-on-Palestinian violence. Chabon himself addresses the curbs placed on Palestinian commerce and how this also redefines the Palestinian experience of "normal life." But other writers see the occupation through self-involved lenses, and Waldman, in her wrenching account of detained children and their training in nonviolent resistance, seems to only belatedly realize that the attention she gives her sources adds to their troubles. Because of the limits of the NGO's network, the same anti-occupation activists repeat their roles as informants and show up in multiple essays, reinforcing the situation's grinding hopelessness. Hannah Barag, an Israeli octogenarian and checkpoint monitor, is a rare voice of prediction amid the general feeling of stasis: "I think the system is going to collapse."