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Sharon and My Mother-in-Law: Ramallah…
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Sharon and My Mother-in-Law: Ramallah Diaries

by Suad Amiry

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I've been trying to read more books by Palestinian authors after reading "Mornings in Jenin". "Sharon and My Mother-in-Law" was a look into how ordinary Palestinians in the Occupied Territories live and work: the extraordinary need for permits, the terrors and uncertainies during the curfews, the indignities of being treated like a terrorist simply because you were born in a certain city. Any such view, is for me, an eye-opener, and therefore of interest.

Unfortunately, I found the book's writing distracting in a couple of ways. First, it was hard for me to follow the timeline as it shifted and jumped. I frequently lost track of which intifada we were in or how long the author had been married/in Ramallah/working at any given point. Second, there is very little about the author's mother-in-law, despite the title and book jacket, and I kept wondering when that relationship, and its tensions, were finally going to be explored, or any relationship, for that matter.

So although I respected the author's experiences living in occupied Ramallah, I could never really appreciate her experience because it remained remote for me. ( )
  labfs39 | May 27, 2010 |
In 1981, Dr Suad Amiry moved to occupied Ramallah, where she lived and worked at the Birzeit University. There she also met a wonderful man, fell in love, married, and acquired a mother-in-law.

This memoir takes you into the heart of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict but, though the book’s setting is dire, the tone is surprisingly light. Amiry conveys her story with a sharp sense of humor, choosing to see the funny side of things – perhaps a mechanism employed to deal with the senselessness and absurdity amid heartbreaking circumstances.

We are given some insight into the challenges Palestinians face, the physical destruction of the land and homes, and the permits, passports and checkpoints that are a part of the day-to-day routine. Amiry has an amazing understanding of humanity and portrays her own struggle vis-a-vis that of others, on both sides of the divide. The narrative is mostly comical, but also sometimes quite sad.

Interestingly, these journal entries were written as a form of therapy during very trying times. When anxious friends asked how she was, Amiry would simply send her ramblings to them. When she later met fellow-Moroccan Fatema Mernissi in Stockholm once, the issue of publishing her thoughts first came up and later materialised. She then she had to recover some of the entries from friends, as she had lost track of many of them.

On the whole tongue-firmly-in-cheek, of course, it seems she cannot decide what her biggest challenge is: Ariel Sharon and the subjugation he has imposed on Palestinians, or having to deal with her mother-in-law and all that comes with it! This was a wonderful, insightful, funny read. ( )
  akeela | Jan 29, 2010 |
This book was great - a real eye-opener if, like me, you are a bit slack at following what's going on in Israel and Palestine. Suar Amiry was born in Syria to Palestinian parents who fled from Jaffa in 1948, but moved back to Palestine when she was 18. She married another Palestinian, Salim, and became an architecture professor. If I had to make a list of people from this yeaer's books with whom I'd like to have dinner, she'd definitely be on it!

This book is in two parts. The first part is her life story from when she's 18 till the mid-1990s, and her day-to-day experiences. The second part is based in 2001 - 2003, when the Israelis tried to smoke Arafat out of his headquarters. Amiry's mother-in-law lived in an apartment building next door to Arafat's headquarters, and ended up staying with Suar and Salim for an extended period of time. I expected there to be more about her mother-in-law in the book than there was, and think the title was very funny but not all that accurate.

Amiry is a great writer and has a biting sense of humour, even when the stories are devastating. There's one about her getting her dog vaccinated, and another where she stares down an Israeli soldier, who then drags her husband in for questioning because "your wife won't stop looking at me!". But overall this book left me really sad. It's light on politics and history, but it probably helps to know a bit about 1948/1967/the intifada, but you don't really need much background. ( )
  cushlareads | Oct 19, 2009 |
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Non ero in vena. "Ci cacciate da Jaffa e poi vi chiedete come mai siamo nati da un'altra parte!"
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0375423796, Hardcover)

“Perhaps one day I may forgive you for putting
us under curfew for forty-two days, but I will never forgive you for making us live with my mother-
in-law for what seemed, then, more like
forty-two years.”

Irreverent, darkly funny, unexpected, and very unlike any other writing on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, Sharon and My Mother-in-Law describes Palestinian architect Suad Amiry’s experience of living in the Occupied Territories.

Based on diaries and e-mail correspondence that Amiry kept to maintain her sanity from 1981 to 2004, the book evokes, through a series of vignettes, the frustrations, cabin fever, and downright misery of daily life in the West Bank town of Ramallah, with its curfews, roadblocks, house-to-house searches, and violence. Amiry writes about the enormous difficulty of moving from one place to another, the torture of falling in love with someone from another town, the absurdity of her dog receiving a Jerusalem identity card when thousands of Palestinians could not do so, and the impossibility of acquiring a gas mask from the Israeli Civil Administration during the first Gulf War in 1991. There are also the challenges of shopping during curfew breaks, the trials of having her ninety-two-year-old mother-in-law living in her house during a forty-two-day curfew, and thoughts on Israel’s Separation Wall.

With a wickedly sharp ear for dialogue and a keen eye for the most telling details, Amiry gives us an original, ironic, and firsthand glimpse into the absurdity——and agony——of life in the Occupied Territories.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:26:38 -0400)

Very unlike any other writing on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, this memoir describes Palestinian architect Amiry's experience of living in the Occupied Territories. Based on diaries and e-mail correspondence that Amiry kept to maintain her sanity from 1981 to 2004, the book evokes, through a series of vignettes, the frustrations, cabin fever, and downright misery of daily life in the West Bank town of Ramallah, with its curfews, roadblocks, house-to-house searches, and violence. Amiry writes about the enormous difficulty of moving from one place to another, the torture of falling in love with someone from another town, the absurdity of her dog receiving a Jerusalem identity card, the challenges of shopping during curfew breaks, the trials of having her 92-year-old mother-in-law living in her house during a 42-day curfew, and thoughts on Israel's Separation Wall.--From publisher description.… (more)

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