The first reviews of my book Fast Times in Palestine have been coming in, and I always cover my eyes a little bit, wondering what each verdict will be. Luckily it's been mostly good news so far.
Publishers Weekly calls it one of the Top Ten Travel Books of 2013 ("a fascinating and honest account of life in Palestine that goes beyond politics to challenge the way we think about the Middle East") and Kirkus Reviews wrote: "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, 'the atmosphere of mute shock expressed only in sidelong glances… of knowing something few people knew, and of genuine connection and collective struggle.'"
The book was deemed "indispensable" by Richard Falk, the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories and professor emeritus of international law at Princeton. From his blogpost on the book at his site, Citizen Pilgrimage:
I realize that without knowing it, I have long waited for this book, although I could not have imagined its lyric magic in advance of reading. It is a triumph of what I would call ‘intelligent innocence,’ the great benefits of a clear mind, an open and warm heart, and a trustworthy moral compass that draws sharp lines between good and evil while remaining ever sensitive to the contradictory vagaries of lives and geographic destinies. Pamela Olson exhibits an endearing combination of humility and overall emotional composure that makes her engaged witnessing of the Palestinian ordeal so valuable for me as I believe and hope it will be for others . . .
In the end what gives the book its special value is the compelling credibility of her “love affair with a homeless homeland,” a sub-title that says it all! It is one thing to lament the suffering and humiliation of the Palestinians or to condemn the cruelty and harshness of the Israeli occupation. It is quite another to be able to observe these defining realities and yet see beyond to a proud and gracious people with a generous sense of humor who manage to live as vibrantly as possible even under almost unimaginable circumstances of oppression. It is this combination of feeling the Palestinian hurt while celebrating the warmth and genuineness of the Palestinian embrace that allows a reader to achieve what I had previously thought impossible without an immersion in the place itself . . .
I have the following daydream: If everyone in America could just sit down quietly and read this book, there would be such an upsurge of outrage and empathy that the climate of opinion on the Israel/Palestine conflict would finally change for the better—even in the polluted air that now prevails within the Beltway. At the very least, as many people as possible should read the book, and if your reaction is similar to mine, give a copy to friends and encourage them to spread the word. We in America should stop subsidizing and facilitating the systematic creation of ‘a homeless homeland.’
It will be available in mid-March, and you can pre-order it from Amazon. I hope you will enjoy learning about my time in this "Homeless Homeland" as much as I enjoyed living it!
P.S. I created a book trailer for the book, which you can view here.