Lalita Panicker picks her favourite reads of 2023 - Hindustan Times
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Lalita Panicker picks her favourite reads of 2023

Dec 29, 2023 05:42 PM IST

To understand what is happening in Gaza, it is necessary to look back at the many works on the subject, especially Failing Peace: Gaza and the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict by Sara Roy, which provides a deep understanding into the origins of the conflict

The question of Palestine is likely to be on the minds of many readers as the year draws to a close and I am sure many would have read the seminal work on this by the incomparable academic/activist Edward Said. But to understand the current conflict, it is necessary to look back at the many works on the subject of this seemingly intractable conflict. The first you should go back to is the magnificent Failing Peace: Gaza and the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict by Sara Roy. Though written over 16 years ago, this meticulously researched book by Roy, the child of Holocaust survivors, provides a deep understanding into the origins of the conflict and the centrality of Gaza in this situation. It gives searing insights into what life really is like for the Palestinians and what decades of occupation have done to them. This book has to be the starting point for anyone hoping to understand the labyrinthine dynamics of the socio-economic and political situation in this broken and desperate land.

In a broken and desperate land (Pluto Press)
In a broken and desperate land (Pluto Press)

Lalita Panicker (Raj K Raj/HT PHOTO)
Lalita Panicker (Raj K Raj/HT PHOTO)

To get a more human insight into the story of the Palestinians and the complex tragedies they live with daily, Nathan Thrall’s article which he has now spun out into a book based on reportage – A Day in the Life of Abed Salama: A Palestine Story – in most informative and readable. It tells of a dreadful school bus accident in the West Bank which kills many children. From this, Thrall goes into the terrible indignities that the Arabs in the West Bank suffer on a daily basis though the anchor is the accident and its aftermath. Thrall used this tragedy as a route into the greater and more complex tragedy of Israel and Palestine, looking at the numerous and horrifying iniquities that the Arab inhabitants of the West Bank are forced to endure. He goes into how Milad, the son of Salama got to be on that fateful bus and how Abed looks frantically for his child. Such a situation is bad enough for any parent, but for Abed the search as a Palestinian living in occupied territories is tortuous, complicated and horrifying. Thrall touches on the life of the Salama family before the annexation and how much of Abed’s land has now passed to settlers through illegal means. Thrall brings alive the realities of annexation and what it has done to the people of this dark and contested land. It offers no answers or excessive emotion, it just tells us the story of a people whose stories seem to have no end. It is just the truth, often banal and commonplace, of people who are trapped in an endless loop of violence and deprivation to which there seems no light at the end of a very dark tunnel.

READ MORE: HT Editors pick their favourite reads of 2023

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