Friday, June 14, 2019

Eight top novels dealing with refugees

Michael Niemann's latest Valentin Vermeulen thriller is No Right Way.

At CrimeReads the author tagged eight "novels of displacement, diaspora, and the traumas of exile," including:
The Collaborator of Bethlehem, Matt Rees

The single largest refugee population lives in Palestine. According to the UNHCR, 5.4 million Palestinian refugees are registered with the United Nations Relief and Works Administration for Palestine Refugees (UNWRA). The origin of this population has been hotly debated for decades. For years, the official Israeli position was that the Palestinians fled because they were told by Arab governments that they could go back as soon as the Israeli forces were defeated. Historical research after the opening of British and Israeli archives now show that the use of violence, including strategic massacres, and the fear of that violence propelled the vast majority to flee their homes. Matt Reese situates his first Omar Yussef novel in the Dehaisha refugee camp near Bethlehem. Yussef teaches history at an UNWRA school and appalled by the absence of nuance brought about by the morbid effects of decades of occupation. Resistance fighters squeeze off rounds at Israeli positions during the night, the Israeli army responds by destroying roads, buildings and targeted killings. One such killing leads to the arrest of Yussef’s good friend and former student as a collaborator. The evidence gathered by Yussef points into a different direction, but the battle lines have hardened so much that the collaborator is given the death penalty without even a hint of a fair trial. Yussef has but two days to prove his friend’s innocence in a climate where revenge is the popular emotion. Rees draws out the ignominy of Israeli occupation but also highlights the power of Palestinian militias and their not so clean business undertakings. The novel shows what happens when the refugee status becomes permanent without a resolution in sight. It’s a sad combination of resignation and anger. After a bomb goes off in the wee hours in the morning at his school, Yussef, leading a policeman past the destroyed classroom, spells this out, “He’s seen this kind of destruction many times. It doesn’t even concern him that this is his own daughter’s classroom.”
Read about another entry on the list.

The Page 69 Test: The Collaborator of Bethlehem.

My Book, The Movie: The Collaborator of Bethlehem.

--Marshal Zeringue