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Fast Times in Palestine: A Love Affair with a Homeless Homeland Paperback – March 12, 2013
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Chris McGreal, The Guardian
"A moving, inspiring account of life in Palestine that's enormously informative yet reads like a novel!"
Rebecca Vilkomerson, Executive Director of Jewish Voice for Peace
"It's love in the time of occupation as Pamela Olson . . . takes us on the emotional roller-coaster of her very personal experience of life in Ramallah. . . A charming book brimming with tension and tragedy, but also with the humor, warmth, everyday foibles and irrepressible hopes of a people determined to live free."
Tony Karon, senior editor of TIME Magazine
"Part adventure story, part searing reportage, part love story, and wholly absorbing."
Dr. Kenneth Ring, co-author of Letters from Palestine
"Pamela Olson leads the reader on an exciting, funny, at times heart-wrenching journey, carefully deciphering complex political and historical issues. Olson is a talented writer, intelligent and exceptional in her ability to convey both tragedy and hope, remaining morally grounded and refreshingly honest."
Ramzy Baroud, author of My Father was a Freedom Fighter
"As an Israeli whose life was shaped by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, I found Fast Times in Palestine moving and refreshing. Pamela Olson comes to the Middle East with a blank slate and is therefore able to hold up an undistorted mirror to the reality she encounters."
Miko Peled, author of The General's Son
"Harrowing, funny, vivid, entertaining and deeply humane, Fast Times in Palestine opens a rare window into Palestinian life. It’s impossible not to be moved on nearly every page by Pamela Olson’s account of the plight of a stateless people struggling to live with dignity under a mind-boggling 48-year military occupation. Yet Olson also shows us the warmth of a people who, despite their circumstances, display a 'preternatural friendliness and curiosity' in an 'enviable place to call home.' Read this book; it will change everything about the way you see the struggle between Israelis and Palestinians."
Sandy Tolan, author of The Lemon Tree
"This is a story by a very smart and fundamentally decent woman who visits Palestine for the first time knowing little about what she will encounter there. Of course, she learns quickly about the horrors of the Israeli occupation and what it means for the local Palestinians. Fast Times in Palestine is Pamela Olson's attempt to describe the indignities and brutality of Palestinian daily life, and try to make sense of it all. What makes her story so compelling is that she tells it in an honest and straightforward way, not by relying on hot rhetoric. For anyone who wants to learn the truth about life under Israeli occupation, this book is a superb starting point."
John J. Mearsheimer, author of Why Leaders Lie
the strength of the narrative lies in Olson’s investigation of the personal and mental effects of oppression and war on herself and her newfound friends Where paradox is as common as breathing, Olson discovers a kind of freedom amid the barbed wire. An empathetic, intriguing memoir.”Kirkus Reviews
"More than a travelogue or a polemic, the book is a coming-of-age story, as Olson discovers her voice by directly confronting the challenges of living in a state of institutionalized paradox... Engaging and easy to read, this is a fascinating memoir."Publishers Weekly
"An ultimately heartwarming story about an American who learned to love a country and a people despite the trauma of the brutal, decades-old conflict she witnesses occurring around her."Library Journal
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Top customer reviews
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But no; the Palestinians you get to know through Olson's compelling story are Israel's innocent victims -- the ones you hoped you would never have to confront. And here they are waiting for you to finish the book and get to work on the root of the problem.
Fast Times in Palestine maintains its pace, letting up only for a few quick gasps, until Olson gives us a break and heads to Washington. That's the next book.
Before I read this book I had little or no concept of what went on there. I attended a family event where Palestine being accepted into the UN was much in discussion, and suddenly I began to feel that I had better get up on what was happening, though I had avoided doing that for years, not wanting to know, and preferring to dismiss it all. As a Christian I had decided that "what goes on over there has nothing to do with me".and "they have been fighting for years and cant get it together, so why get involved?." I find this is a typical American perspective, and that was mine. But I made a decision to look into it.
So I went in search of books that might give me some insight. I bought a few books, but Ms.Olson's book interested me right away. I remember thinking lets see what an American with no preconceived ideas or Middle East connections has to say. I was riveted from page one.
This engaging book draws you into its narrative immediately. You are with a recent college graduate (Stanford and no slouch) and you are in Egypt and in then you are in Jordan and then pretty quickly you are surprised to be traveling in the West Bank. You are with a young woman who had very little idea of what he West Bank was. (I was right there along with her.) She deftly draws you in to her experience, meeting and seeing Palestinians with extravagant hospitality and an open and engaging affection. The author soon finds herself amazed at the love she develops for this land and the people. After returning to the states, she decides to study the Arabic language with a view to going back to work in the West Bank town of Ramallah.
As a reader you are lead on a journey both adventurous and tender. For a young woman from Oklahoma she experiences--and relates those experience with immediacy, insight and humor at times-- things few in the US ever experience. The sweetness of an olive harvest, the warm times amidst family that adopt her, and delicious food, the unhindered affection that the people show her are balanced by the jolting nastiness of a 25 foot wall tearing thru private property and checkpoints that must repeatedly be crossed, where armed guards rule--just to visit a neighboring town.
I found myself stunned at the things I read. What also surprised me was the way life seemed to go on often with joy, in the city of Ramallah and in surrounding villages--in spite of a military occupation, in place since 1967.
The book offers not only a view of what life is like in the 21st century, under occupation, bit also presents information about when the conflict started. Unlike what we are often led to believe, the conflict had a beginning. It cannot be said to have been going on for centuries, in any other way than that conflict itself has always been around. The book, while not a history book, gives a simple grasp on the background beginning in 1948 when the state of Israel was declared and also including some about the occupation beginning in 1967. Maps are also helpful here.
After reading Fast Times... (my husband read it as well) I then suggested it to my book club and they all bought and read it, and then we discussed it for 3 hours. Every member of the club was startled and at what they learned and thanked me. The kinds of things Ms Olson relates in her book no US media had been relating.
With the 2014 siege of Gaza I feel this book is more important than ever. There is an urgency to know and learn. I highly recommend reading it to get a feel and an understanding--in a most enjoyable and honest manner--of "what goes on over there" and why you "should know, and care".
Most recent customer reviews
Palestine really is!