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Occupied Paperback – October 20, 2015
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"Occupied follows the lives of four main characters; a refugee, native, settler and economic migrant, all of whom are affected by these divisions. At their core, each character is the same; they all face the same challenges, react in the same ways, and feel the same emotions. But their different labels and alternative backgrounds provide barriers which stop them from ever uniting.
It would be easy to focus on this theme, which runs through Occupied. But to do so would be to miss the artistry of the novel; the characters which often remind us of ourselves, the scenery which bursts into life, and the subplots which fill every page. Occupied is a story of individual hope against collective despair, and with that comes a certain sense of optimism; a determination to be the best you can. The four main characters have to battle against the trauma of forced marriages, displacement and physical abuse, but they become stronger as a result of experiencing such hardships."
3rd March 2016
"Occupied operates in an ethereal plane; real enough to make it feel relevant, yet mysterious enough to imbue it with warmth.The reader evolves with the four main characters as they travel through life; standing in their shoes and feeling their pain. For despite its darkness, Occupied is also full of light. The love between the characters is easily relatable to the love we often feel in own our lives, and the poetic descriptions buzz with energy and life. Occupied really is a unique work of dystopian fiction, and a must-read for any lover of radical literature."
23rd February 2016
"The way it was written meant that even if someone has no pre-existing knowledge of Palestine, the Kurdish question and Tibet, they would have still enjoyed it and still understood the reasoning behind the anti-colonial and anti-capitalist sentiments behind the book."
Middle East Monitor
11th December 2016
"Occupied is a candid and disquieting look at the idea of freedom and its limits around the world."
4th January 2016
About the Author
Joss Sheldon is a scruffy nomad, an unshaven layabout, and a good for nothing hobo. Born in 1982, he was bought up in one of the anonymous suburbs which wrap themselves around London's beating heart. And then he escaped.
With a degree from the London School of Economics to his name, Sheldon had spells selling falafel at music festivals, being a ski-bum, and failing to turn the English Midlands into a haven of rugby league.
Before, in 2013, he went to McLeod Ganj in India; a village which plays home to thousands of angry monkeys, hundreds of Tibetan refugees, and the Dalai Lama himself. It was there, wrapped up in a blanket which featured some animated teddies, that Sheldon wrote his first two novels; 'Involution & Evolution' and ‘Occupied’.
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Top Customer Reviews
From the first, I could see that this is not my usual read, but it quickly grew on me. A story of Tamsin, Ellie, Arun & Charlie; four individuals, who cross paths in their lives. All of them the same in so many ways, but with their profound differences as well.
The time & place seems to be a fictional representation of the Six-Day War that erupted over the ancient lands of the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, and Golan Heights. The stresses and conflicts of the characters in the book had me want to know more, as I found online:[...]
The book is broken up into 12 chapters: the first four covering the childhoold of our key characters; the second four their adolescence; the final four their adulthood.
I found the story of economic and social hardship a compelling one, particularly in the first chapters of the book. It was a story of: land owners displaced; refugees unwanted; authoritarion police, with checkpoints, blockades, and wanton violence; rebels of the new regime; and the wealthy new occupiers.
From the beginning one thing, that built up and grated like white noise in the background, was an ongoing reference to economic growth and chain stores and a change to the economic landscape. But I could see that, in this, the author had a purpose, and so I carried on.
The difficulty I had with the book, was that the writing and the story were so well done and believable, but only in the first eight chapters. And for me the book went downhill from there. The first eight chapters alone would have made this a 5 star book, had the structure and story felt the same to the end.
I felt that this was a book that conveyed an important message; a message about an ambiguous joining of different peoples - a non-melting-pot if you will, each group thinking their own way is the only way.
Unfortunately, the last four chapters simply bring more noise, and simply change the whole flavor of the book for me. The book walked me from the compelling, beautiful, and believable; to an un-real fiction in the end.
Thanks to the author and Goodreads for the opportunity to provide this unbiased review.
Occupied illustrates refugee and migrant experiences with shocking clarity, but balances that with thoughtful understanding of many points of view. We also hear from Ellie whose town is overrun with refugees and Aaron who is just as much a refugee, but identifies as a settler and is therefore privileged. The book is ostensibly set in Palestine, but I was also reminded of other recent reads of mine set in apartheid South Africa, British Empire India and segregated Alabama. Sheldon's themes of unjustified blame and enmity based on something as arbitrary as religion or cultural background are a depressingly familiar part of humanity and I liked how he showed that, in the end, everyone was just as screwed, regardless of from where they had started!
Sheldon writes of extreme violence, war and persecution, torture and brutal neglect. Big businesses and cultural leaders are warped and re-presented to show their true colours, but there is wonderfully dry humour scattered across the horror too and glimpses of positive sides to humanity. It's certainly not all doom and gloom. Renamed corporations are fun and spotting nods to other novels is satisfying. Occupied is not a book to be entered lightly, but it is one that is very difficult to put aside once started and I will certainly be offering it as a suggestion to anyone asking for recommendations, probably for months to come. I loved relating the skewed world of the book to our own world and experienced a few uncomfortable moments as I recognised aspects of myself. I think Occupied will turn out to be my book of the month and I wouldn't be surprised if it is my book of the year too.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Praise to the author's word ability to convey vivid descriptions of imagination which transports the reader...Read more