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Wall of Dust

 

Readers have called it “breathtaking,” “cinematic.” One said, “It transported me.” Wall of Dust does what few novels about the Middle East do: it respects each of its characters as a human being, whether Israeli or Arab, Jew or Muslim. All are caught in a situation not of their own making, and no matter what their allegiances, they are still individuals, subject to all the anxieties and doubts that afflict us all. “Even-handed without being polemically so. Various characters on both sides of the conflict have benign or destructive motivations and impulses, but all are fully human.”

 

Aisha, a Palestinian schoolteacher who has lost most of her class in a missile attack, becomes deranged and begins a strange ritual, throwing stones at the separation barrier between Israel and the West Bank. Zev is an Israeli sniper who watches her, wondering what sort of madwoman she is, while sorting out his own feelings of being rejected by his mother as “unclean.”

 

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Wall of Dust is an exemplary work of contemporary fiction that merits the broadest of readerships. On the political level, it is uncompromising in its message of unarmed resistance to oppression, both from the Israeli occupation and from Islamic fundamentalism. On the social level, the novel washes away the stereotypes of the belligerents in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And on the humanist level, it envelops the readers in the dust of the wall, a subtle allusion to transitory human existence. Wall of Dust is not a work of fiction to be treated lightly. And it will stir controversy. However, it is a powerful allegory, which will hopefully change how readers see the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

                                                                                         Ian Shaw, Ottawa Review of Books

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