Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Pg. 69: Matt Beynon Rees' "A Grave in Gaza"

The current feature at the Page 69 Test: Matt Beynon Rees' A Grave in Gaza.

About the book, from David Keymer's Library Journal review:
In Rees's exceptionally fine follow-up to his highly praised debut, The Collaborator of Bethlehem, the Palestinian government in Gaza is a fiction: warring gangs collaborate only to loot. Omar Yussef, the principal of a girls' school in Bethlehem, arrives on an inspection tour of schools and is soon drawn into efforts to secure the release of a university lecturer arrested on a trumped-up charge of spying. One of his colleagues is kidnapped, a UN van is blown up, and a UN observer killed. At 56, Yussef is neither supersleuth nor superhero, just an honorable man striving to find justice for the disenfranchised in a thoroughly corrupt society, where violence is the preferred, indeed, the only tool of governing. A virtue of this outstanding novel is its prose: evocative and sensual in describing setting and character, forceful in moving along the action. A compelling mystery story and a sympathetic portrait of a wounded society, this novel is truly excellent popular fiction. Strongly recommended for mystery and general collections.
Among the early praise for A Grave in Gaza:
“Matt Beynon Rees has taken a complex world of culture clash and suspicion and placed upon it humanity.”
—David Baldacci, The Collectors

"Rees’ The Collaborator of Bethlehem (2007) may have been last year’s best mystery debut. This followup, again starring Omar Yussef, the mild-mannered Palestinian history teacher determined to defy all the ideologues who exploit his homeland, is every bit as good as its predecessor.... Like the late Batya Gur, Rees combines solid mystery plotting with a literary novelist’s emphasis on character and the small human dramas that happen within the broader sociopolitical landscape. And, unlike many crime writers, he writes with great power, style, and emotion: 'Gaza bellowed and struggled like an injured donkey, while its rulers played the role of the angry farmer, furiously beating the stricken beast, though they knew it couldn’t get up.'"
Booklist, starred review

“Omar’s probe of a West Bank ruled by political intrigue, religious hatred, and militia thugs lets ex-Time Jerusalem bureau chief Rees make the Mideast conflict personal.”
Entertainment Weekly

“Uncovers the gritty, often disturbing human realities of life in Palestinian society…. [Rees] gives his characters heart as he gives his readers a thrill.”

“An evocative, compassionate tale.”
San Francisco Chronicle

"Yussef is a splendid creation."
—Colin Dexter, author of the Inspector Morse Mysteries
Learn more about A Grave in Gaza and its author at Matt Beynon Rees' website.

Matt Beynon Rees published a nonfiction account of Israeli and Palestinian society called Cain's Field: Faith, Fratricide, and Fear in the Middle East (2004). His first detective novel, The Collaborator of Bethlehem, was published in the U.S. in February 2007. It was nominated for a Quill Award and named one of the Top 10 Mysteries of the Year by Booklist.

The French magazine L'Express called Matt Beynon Rees "the Dashiell Hammett of Palestine."

The Page 69 Test: The Collaborator of Bethlehem.

My Book, The Movie: The Collaborator of Bethlehem.

The Page 69 Test: A Grave in Gaza.

--Marshal Zeringue