We talk with Rebecca Sacks about her powerful debut novel, City of a Thousand Gates. It’s about the intersecting stories of the peoples of Israel and Palestine, and how oppression twists and informs the humanity of perpetrators and victims.
Then, we replay our 2016 interview with Palestinian-American novelist Susan Abulhawa about her second novel, The Blue Between Sky and Water.
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Rebecca Sacks’ searing and powerfully written debut novel City of a Thousand Gates interweaves the stories of a cast of characters — Palestinians, Israelis and observers— in Israel and the occupied West Bank.
The novel revolves around two interconnected and defining events, the murders of two teens. One is Yael, an Israeli settler murdered in her bed at night. Soon after, a revenge killing: Salem, a young Palestinian boy, is beaten to death by a gang of Israeli men at a mall. Vera, a German journalist, plays witness to the impact of the murders on the society and people around her.
These are three of the many characters that bring to life what it’s like to live in a place where violence is routine and survival is defined by boundaries, walls, and checkpoints that force people to live and love within and across them.
Rebecca Sacks fully enters into the personalities of her characters, never shrinking from the moral challenges of a society where injustice and privilege play out. A citizen of Canada, the United States and Israel, her dispatches from Tel Aviv and Jerusalem have been published in journals such as the Paris Review Daily.
In this episode, we look at how fiction can illumine the conflict of Israel and Palestine: how the asymmetrical power between a dominant state and a subjugated people impacts the lives of all who live within the borders of the conflict.
In this second segment, we hear an extended excerpt from our 2015 interview with Susan Abulhawa about her novel of a Palestinian family, The Blue Between Sky And Water.