“…Promise was that I
Should Israel from Philistian yoke deliver;
Ask for this great deliverer now and find him
Eyeless in Gaza at the Mill with slaves…”
John Milton, Samson Agonistes
The unrelentingly bleak news from the Middle East the past two days has had me thinking back on Matt Beynon Rees’ exceptional novel A Grave In Gaza. This remarkably evenhanded and nonjudgmental tale evokes the grim realities of life in the Hamas ruled Gaza Strip. Rees’ curmudgeonly hero, Omar Yussef Sirhan, navigates the treacherous landscape mired in the dirty politics of the Fatah-Hamas feud while trying to achieve the ever elusive goal of justice for an innocent man.
Rees admirably avoids scapegoating Israel for the mess in Gaza, but instead attempts to shine a spotlight on the corrupt Palestinian leadership. He spares no detail in chronicling the brutality of state sponsored terror in Gaza, while presenting a nuanced portrait of honorable, innocent Palestinians, like Omar Yussef, who manage to cling to their dignity and humanity in a chaotic and murky land.
Matt Beynon Rees is the former Jerusalem bureau chief for Time. He still lives in Jerusalem and continues to help us grasp the impossible by providing a compelling narrative for us to follow in his series of Omar Yussef novels. To learn more about his books please visit his website.