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Set in Palestine, the memoir isn't merely expat or travel literature. It touches on subjects that speak to all human beings living in this complex modern world - love, curiosity, conflict, and a feeling of instability. Listeners will oscillate between being shocked at Olson's crazy adventures, and reassured by her familiar spirit.
With dizzying speed she found herself attending Yasser Arafat's funeral, tour-guiding Israeli friends around the West Bank, dating a Palestinian from a conservative village, being held at gunpoint and injured by a stun grenade, and witnessing the 2005 Disengagement from inside the Gaza Strip. The gripping narrative focuses not only on violence, terror, and politics but also on the daily rounds of house parties, concerts, barbecues, weddings, jokes, harvests, and romantic drama that happen in between.
Funny, gorgeous, shocking, and galvanizing, Fast Times in Palestine challenges the way we think not only about the Middle East but about human nature and our place in the world.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Susie on 11-04-13
Palestine from the Inside—and Out
Pamela J. Olsen was a Stanford physics graduate who followed her curiosity to the Middle East and quickly ended up living and working in Ramallah.
Olsen is such an engaging writer, that I got caught up in the small human dramas around her, as she did, forgetting that this was in one of the most contentious places in the world—until something extraordinary would come up.
For instance, traveling to Jerusalem to retrieve some hospital papers for a boy shot in the back so his family could get permission to travel to see him, she was stonewalled by the hospital staff, the boy wasn't worth the trouble. A simple request met with casual racism.
With lovely prose, and no agenda but that of reporting her experience, she paints relatable portrait of a difficult and complicated situation.
Julia Farhat’s narration is friendly and immediate, conveying the "American girl who’s eyes are opened abroad" in a believable way.
4 of 5 people found this review helpful
By Tracy on 08-15-16
Eye-opening, heartbreaking, and enthralling
I really enjoyed listening to this book. Told almost as a travelogue and filled with stories and colorful people, it somehow made the reality of this heartbreaking story enjoyable. Olson did a nice job of painting a picture of what life was/is like in the West Bank from all the different perspectives and the tragedies that seem to fill the days there. I feel like I have a better understanding of the conflict from the Palestinian side now and it isn't pretty. Not that you expect it to be but it certainly begs for intervention. I highly recommend this book.