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Sabra Zoo by Mischa Hiller

Sabra Zoo

by Mischa Hiller

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342329,500 (3.89)7



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Set during the Beirut Civil war in 1982 against backdrop of one of worst massacres in Middle East history. The narrator is an 18 year old whose father is Palestinian and whose mother is Danish. His parents are activists and have fled in advance of the approaching Israeli amy. He is able to stay behind because of the protection of his Danish passport. He continues to work with the underground, while volunteering as a translator at the hospital in the Sabra refugee camp.

"Over the years my anxiety had moved through a spectrum of fears. A spate of car bombs meant walking the streets took on a new twist: scanning parked cars for extra aerials and crossing the road to avoid being decapitated by a flying pice of metal. With rockets I had learned (during the Civil War) to recognize the particular pre-impact whine of different caliber shells. It was said that if you could hear it coming then it had passed over and you were ok, as long as you hit the ground (keeping your chest raised). To avoid being buried alive under the rubble was a new worry, thanks to the size of the bombs being dropped during the siege, some big enough to bring down a six-story building. Rumours also circulated of a new vacuum bomb, which made buildings implode, turning them into need piles of debris. Consequently, taking shelter in the basement, the place to be during a raid, became as much of a risk as staying on the top floor; in other words, you chose your own odds. The list of things to be afraid of went on: snipers that made certain crossings more interesting, armed flareups at minor traffic incidents, guns going off by accident, and so on."

When he escapes to Denmark to his grandparents, "...it was like leaving horribly injured people at the scene of an appalling accident in the futile hope that if you couldn't see it then it wouldn't bother you."

Excellent book. ( )
  arubabookwoman | Nov 22, 2015 |
The last book I read in 2013 was another by this author, [Shake Off]. I enjoyed it so much I decided to read all of Hiller's books. They are both thriller type of books, although [Shake Off] more so. In Sabra Zoo the main character is Ivan, the son of Palestinians who have escaped from the camps in Beirut. Ivan has chosen to stay behind and take over some of his parents' work as activists. The story has been described as a rite of passage novel as Ivan experiences this life and the consequences, evaluates the consequences, and determines if he wants to continue his parents' work or not. This is a GREAT book and has been recognized with awards for best first novel, etc. Highly recommended - couldn't put it down - I appreciate the combination of action and complicated characters. I enjoy the interaction between Palestinians, Israelis, Christians, Muslims and those who simply aren't interested. ( )
1 vote mkboylan | Jan 14, 2014 |
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Twenty years after the civil war ended, Beirut is again a holiday destination; boutique hotels have risen from the rubble and wealth swaggers once more along the Corniche. This brief, explosive account of the weeks leading up to the massacre of Palestinians at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in September 1982 is a timely reminder of Lebanon's divided past and precarious future. Ivan is 18, half-Danish, half-Palestinian; his politically implicated parents have left for a safer country, yet he remains to act as interpreter for trauma cases at the hospital within the camp at Sabra. Unbeknown to the international volunteers there he is also an underground messenger for the Palestinians. Time seems suspended; senses are heightened. Worldly-wise though innocent, Ivan is drawn to older Norwegian physiotherapist Eli and enraged orphan Youssef; just two of the exhausted, impassioned characters in Hiller's stunning, defiant debut.
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During the summer of 1982, eighteen-year-old Ivan's parents are evacuated from Beirut. He chooses to stay behind and acts as an interpreter for international medical volunteers in a refugee camp. There he meets Eli, a Norwegian physiotherapist, and helps her treat Youssef, a camp orphan disabled by a cluster bomb. When the Israeli army enters Beirut and surrounds the camp, Eli and Youssef are trapped inside.… (more)

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Telegram Books

An edition of this book was published by Telegram Books.

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