Palestine

Checkpoint Kalandia

Checkpoint Kalandia
Publisher:
Published: October 17, 2014
Author's Twitter: @dhallaj
Life in a Palestinian refugee camp is filled with poverty, and hopeless frustration at the best of times—and 2001 is far from the best of times. Muhammad, already scarred by violence and tragedy, is plunged into depression when the frequent curfews make it impossible for him to find work. He can no longer face the thought of crossing the military checkpoint, but all available jobs are on the other side. His inability to provide for his family drives him to despair. He decides to spend the only coin remaining to him—his life. CHECKPOINT KALANDIA is the story of one man’s journey to the depths of human despondency.

Reviewed by Awesome Indies

Checkpoint Kalandia is a powerful and absorbing read, a book for our times, and one that everyone should read. It takes you into the heart and minds of a family living under Israeli occupation, and brings home the reality of the terrible constraints placed on their lives. This could be a totally miserable book, but the strength and support shown by family members gives it hope and honours the great spirit of a people who have suffered for so long because of a poorly considered decision by politicians with no understanding of or relationship to the region.
If you think the Palestinians are an angry people, this book challenges you to consider how you would feel if placed in the same situation. How would you handle it? Can we really blame them when their frustration boils over? These are ordinary people, like you and me, placed in an extremely difficult situation, and Ms Hallaj handles the subject matter with skill and sensitivity.
A must read for anyone interested in powerful and moving literature.

 

 

 

Born a Refugee

Born a Refugee
Publisher:
Published: November 11, 2013
Author's Twitter: @dhallaj
A widow and her four boys struggle amidst poverty, overcrowding, and the violence of military occupation as different political views threaten to tear the small family apart. Ali believes that only active resistance can bring the media attention necessary to draw global support for the Palestinian’s bid for freedom. His older brother, Mahmoud, says education is the only path out of the squalid over-crowded refugee camp. They have no control over the political violence that erupts all around them, but Mother keeps the peace within the small house. As the brothers walk their very different paths, will Ali be forced to live the life Mahmoud had to give up when their father was killed?

Reviewed by Richard Bunning

 

This is a deep, rich, poignant and profoundly humanistic book. It is also one of the best “political” books I have ever read.
The central thesis, a family that could be any one’s neighbours anywhere of Earth, except that they are struggling against the crush of a “foreign” military occupation, living between Jerusalem and Ramallah, is brilliantly constructed.
Whilst telling one extended family’s story Hallaj very cleverly keeps the reader linked to the massive historical waves convulsing the nowadays lands of Abraham. The chosen device, the start of chapter historic, headline, quote, works very well.
Hallaj is a very good reader of the mind set of others. Her characters are totally believable, and her understanding of the issues facing now stateless people walking their own ancestors’ lands seems to me to be sharp and profound. Politicians who really care for the pursuit of peace should read this book, whatever side of the wicked divide birth or conviction puts them on.
My only gripe is that Hallaj is far too soft on the terrors on both sides of the story. For me the time for soft kicks, for common sense to find solutions, ended with the death of Ben Gurion, a long life far too short. But then again, if ever peace is to come and it can only come through peaceful means then this book may well be a cathartic part of the build. No antagonists can justifiably claim that this read is too hurtful of their sensibilities. For those such as me, distant from the issues, this is a fiction that I feel accurately reflects a continuing truth. Whilst it is only too easy for me to say the words that this book boils in me, I fully acknowledge that if I had been born to either side I would likely be a thorn rather than a peacemaker. Only extraordinarily brave people will ever change things, but I’m sure the humanitarian values portrayed in books like this are a modest but valuable step. We all have mothers.