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Sharon and My Mother-in-Law: Ramallah Diaries

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Based on diaries and e-mail correspondence that architect Suad Amiry kept from 1981 to 2004, Sharon and My Mother-in-Law evokes the frustrations, cabin fever, and downright misery of daily life in the West Bank town of Ramallah. Amiry writes with elegance and humor about the enormous difficulty of moving from one place to another, the torture of falling in love with someon Based on diaries and e-mail correspondence that architect Suad Amiry kept from 1981 to 2004, Sharon and My Mother-in-Law evokes the frustrations, cabin fever, and downright misery of daily life in the West Bank town of Ramallah. Amiry writes with elegance and humor 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, and the trials of having her ninety-two-year-old mother-in-law living in her house during a forty-two day curfew. With a wickedly sharp ear for dialogue and a keen eye for detail, Amiry gives us an original, ironic, and firsthand glimpse into the absurdity — and agony — of life in the Occupied Territories.


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Based on diaries and e-mail correspondence that architect Suad Amiry kept from 1981 to 2004, Sharon and My Mother-in-Law evokes the frustrations, cabin fever, and downright misery of daily life in the West Bank town of Ramallah. Amiry writes with elegance and humor about the enormous difficulty of moving from one place to another, the torture of falling in love with someon Based on diaries and e-mail correspondence that architect Suad Amiry kept from 1981 to 2004, Sharon and My Mother-in-Law evokes the frustrations, cabin fever, and downright misery of daily life in the West Bank town of Ramallah. Amiry writes with elegance and humor 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, and the trials of having her ninety-two-year-old mother-in-law living in her house during a forty-two day curfew. With a wickedly sharp ear for dialogue and a keen eye for detail, Amiry gives us an original, ironic, and firsthand glimpse into the absurdity — and agony — of life in the Occupied Territories.

30 review for Sharon and My Mother-in-Law: Ramallah Diaries

  1. 5 out of 5

    Ghada Arafat

    I could really relate to what she said about living illegally in Palestine. the term was always ridiculous to me but unfortunately this is how things work in Palestine. For me, I lived illegally but for different reasons. I got my ID just after Oslo during my first visit to Palestine but my journey started when I decided to live in Ramallah to study at Beir Zait university for my masters. And yes in Palestine u can have an ID and still be considered as illegal resident. I have a Gazan ID which m I could really relate to what she said about living illegally in Palestine. the term was always ridiculous to me but unfortunately this is how things work in Palestine. For me, I lived illegally but for different reasons. I got my ID just after Oslo during my first visit to Palestine but my journey started when I decided to live in Ramallah to study at Beir Zait university for my masters. And yes in Palestine u can have an ID and still be considered as illegal resident. I have a Gazan ID which means that I can not reach the West Bank but with a special permit. Once it is expired, I had to go back to Gaza or if I decide to remain in WB I will be illegal. Of course the second choice was the most appropriate thing to do especially that I was working and studying in Ramallah at the permit would be mostly for only a week or so. From 1998 till 2000 I stayed in Ramallah and at that time I thought that I had a bad experience, till things became worse after the Intifada. I was lucky that just one day before the outbreak of the Intifada I went to Gaza to live with my parents thinking that I can work on my thesis from there. Which I barely did. It took me 4 years to finish my thesis as I could not make it to the WB at all and I had to go to Egypt to get the material I needed for my thesis. In 2004 I got married and moved to the WB once again. And wooooooo that was a completely different experience, or i would say a nightmare, especially after I became a Mom. I will come back later to explain the difference between the two experiences, but now I have to go.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Bayan Haddad

    Little is known about the normal Palestinian life except for conflict & occupation. This book gives you a look on an ordinary Palestinian's joys, sorrows and sufferings in a fun way. And that makes it all that different and special. Little is known about the normal Palestinian life except for conflict & occupation. This book gives you a look on an ordinary Palestinian's joys, sorrows and sufferings in a fun way. And that makes it all that different and special.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Amanda Ishtayeh

    Please read this book! It is what I have been trying to tell everyone about the Palestinian occupation. It is not about the religion it is about the people. The people that want to write, attend concerts, feed their kids, go to work! The Israeli's are wrong in their treatment of the Palestinians. This was a quick read about a women who lives in the West Bank and her experiences. Please read this book! It is what I have been trying to tell everyone about the Palestinian occupation. It is not about the religion it is about the people. The people that want to write, attend concerts, feed their kids, go to work! The Israeli's are wrong in their treatment of the Palestinians. This was a quick read about a women who lives in the West Bank and her experiences.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    Great humorous (though I did cry multiple times) book on living in Occupied Palestine. Lots of the same heart breaking stories you have always heard-olive groves demolished, people forced to leave their homes in 1948 (the other day at my international ladies' program we had cultural day and a little old lady got up and told in broken English how she fled her home in 1948 and has never been back to Palestine since yet she proudly writes it each week on her name tag as her country), security at ai Great humorous (though I did cry multiple times) book on living in Occupied Palestine. Lots of the same heart breaking stories you have always heard-olive groves demolished, people forced to leave their homes in 1948 (the other day at my international ladies' program we had cultural day and a little old lady got up and told in broken English how she fled her home in 1948 and has never been back to Palestine since yet she proudly writes it each week on her name tag as her country), security at airports, check points, not being able to get to work, not being able to get to school, not being able to see family, Saud was even separated from her husband for a while, house searches, cars flatten, curfews-and all of this for law abiding Palestinians. Its a great read to open your eyes and get your blood pumping. I do recommend Blessed are the Peacemakers by Audeh Rantisi (a Pal pastor) and Light Force by Brother Andrew (an unbiased outsiders thought) for a more uplifting and Christian perspective. But this personal account from a free spirited nonreligious lady is good. And while she doesn't go into causes or solutions it makes me sad to think this whole nation of people are living under such oppression (or they innocent now? not really but that doesn't change the original thought) because one European nation killed a bunch of Jews and other European people said well let's give them a country where they lived 2000 years ago before another European nation kicked them out.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Dana

    Suad tells the story of every Palestinian's struggle to live and find joy against the odds of the Israeli occupation. She manages to do so in a very hilarious way (i'd literally start laughing out loud while reading this!). This book is a great read, even for all you who prefer fiction and non-politics, this nonfiction does not come short of being interesting and full of funny pulling events which anyone would be interested in reading. A must read! Suad tells the story of every Palestinian's struggle to live and find joy against the odds of the Israeli occupation. She manages to do so in a very hilarious way (i'd literally start laughing out loud while reading this!). This book is a great read, even for all you who prefer fiction and non-politics, this nonfiction does not come short of being interesting and full of funny pulling events which anyone would be interested in reading. A must read!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Samar Dahmash Jarrah

    Although the occupation is beyond sad, i could not stop ;aughing out loud! Helarious what a mother in law can do. A must read!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Mohsen

    Probably the best contemporary Arabic book that I have ever read concerning this topic. Not sure if I'm saying this because of the writer's profession as an architect, but she has captured my attention with her words effortlessly. I have never recommended a book so much. Probably the best contemporary Arabic book that I have ever read concerning this topic. Not sure if I'm saying this because of the writer's profession as an architect, but she has captured my attention with her words effortlessly. I have never recommended a book so much.

  8. 5 out of 5

    آية العوبلّي

    This is what resisting through humor looks like. You will laugh, a lot - and cry a little.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Rima

    A journey of despair into Ramallah! One starts to feel the writer is familiarizing us with the pain, the loss, the misery. She even has a humorous and sarcastic way of dealing with the issues. One might think that pain is alleviated; however, the reader cannot but feel outraged, humiliated, dehumanized by whatever the Palestinians are going through in the occupied lands.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Hasheemah Afaneh

    Entertaining, heartbreaking and lighthearted all the same, this book will leave you feeling inspired and with a heavy sigh. I say this time and time again, but Suad Amiry is one of my favorite authors, and I am so grateful I came across her when I did. Sard, a spoken word platform based in Ramallah, had Suad Amiry as a guest, and she was so inspiring. This book tells the story of life under occupation, but during a specific time - the intifada or uprising. It speaks about family, friendship and Entertaining, heartbreaking and lighthearted all the same, this book will leave you feeling inspired and with a heavy sigh. I say this time and time again, but Suad Amiry is one of my favorite authors, and I am so grateful I came across her when I did. Sard, a spoken word platform based in Ramallah, had Suad Amiry as a guest, and she was so inspiring. This book tells the story of life under occupation, but during a specific time - the intifada or uprising. It speaks about family, friendship and love.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Diane

    Close-up view of what it's like to live in a state of constant harassment punctuated with periods of anxious boredom and bouts of violence (not to mention curfews). (Makes the DMV, my usual candidate for purgatory-on-earth, seem like a very genteel garden party.) The subtitle says a lot - it's basically a diary, so daily details abound and predominate. And since Ramallah is a difficult place to live, they're more interesting than they might be, altho also much more appalling. I can barely imagin Close-up view of what it's like to live in a state of constant harassment punctuated with periods of anxious boredom and bouts of violence (not to mention curfews). (Makes the DMV, my usual candidate for purgatory-on-earth, seem like a very genteel garden party.) The subtitle says a lot - it's basically a diary, so daily details abound and predominate. And since Ramallah is a difficult place to live, they're more interesting than they might be, altho also much more appalling. I can barely imagine what it must be to be an architect interested in preserving historic Palestinian buildings! Has to be one of the world's sadder job descriptions. But vivid as the author makes daily life in Ramallah, I found myself wishing for a section of thoughtfulness and reflection about her situation and choices and their meanings, a section that doesn't exist. For all that she strives for a certain amount of humor in this book, there seemed to me also a lot of very thinly veiled anger. Some perspective would have been very welcome.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Xilks

    This was a really interesting book. It was assigned for a class and I had sort of read something like it before but it was unique in the way that it really opened up my eyes to what was going on in Israel and Palestine. The situation there was like this gray fuzzy thing that the local news glazed over and always painted the Israel side as the "virtuous" aside rather than showing what it really is. This book didn't go into the vicious detail that it could have, and the terrible things that is hap This was a really interesting book. It was assigned for a class and I had sort of read something like it before but it was unique in the way that it really opened up my eyes to what was going on in Israel and Palestine. The situation there was like this gray fuzzy thing that the local news glazed over and always painted the Israel side as the "virtuous" aside rather than showing what it really is. This book didn't go into the vicious detail that it could have, and the terrible things that is happening to theses Palestinian people, but it could have. This book has informed me and intrigued me to be better informed on what is happening in the world and the injustices that are still going on. In short: This is a good read, not heavy on the politics but still there is enough being said that it tells the reader a story of what's happening to these people and how they live day to day.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Priya D'souza

    Sharon and My Mother in Law refers to Ariel Sharon and Suad Amiry's 91 year old mother in law, both of whom have important roles to play in making Suad's existence unbearable in completely different ways. Suad is an architect from Ramallah who is clearly in love with her city. She talks about her experiences in the city under Israeli occupation with frankness and humour that will leave you in tears one minute and snorting your coffee out your nose in helpless laughter the next. The runins with Is Sharon and My Mother in Law refers to Ariel Sharon and Suad Amiry's 91 year old mother in law, both of whom have important roles to play in making Suad's existence unbearable in completely different ways. Suad is an architect from Ramallah who is clearly in love with her city. She talks about her experiences in the city under Israeli occupation with frankness and humour that will leave you in tears one minute and snorting your coffee out your nose in helpless laughter the next. The runins with Israelia soldiers, the paranoia and hysteria that come from being under constant curfews, surveillance and violence, living in a land where it's easier to get a residential permit for your dog than it is for a married woman to be with her husband, all this interspersed with the ordinariness of life lived in a society, serve to make this book a an insightful and entertaining read.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kerry

    I did like this book, but was a bit disappointed that so much was left out. Although this was just supposed to be a compilation of writings the author had made chronicling her experiences as they happened, I felt it would have been more powerful to "fill in the gaps" a bit and to explain what happened to everyone and where they are now. This approach, however, would make this more of an historical fiction piece instead of it's current non-fiction style. All in all, though, the story was interest I did like this book, but was a bit disappointed that so much was left out. Although this was just supposed to be a compilation of writings the author had made chronicling her experiences as they happened, I felt it would have been more powerful to "fill in the gaps" a bit and to explain what happened to everyone and where they are now. This approach, however, would make this more of an historical fiction piece instead of it's current non-fiction style. All in all, though, the story was interesting and did give a glimpse into the suffering and hardships Palestinians have endured during the Isreali occupation.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Enas

    A lively nice account of what life under occupation is like. It is rather accessible, amusing and light. There are tiny little things that we do everyday to go about our lives and this books shows you how different these things are when you do or try to do them under occupation.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Taj Saleem

    interesting, amazing, heartbreaking in a sarcastic way.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Foxglove

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Admittedly, her unwavering support of Arafat poisoned the entire book. You can hate Israel for all i care, but at least admit the "Old Man" screwed over Palestinians just as thoroughly. Admittedly, her unwavering support of Arafat poisoned the entire book. You can hate Israel for all i care, but at least admit the "Old Man" screwed over Palestinians just as thoroughly.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Uswa Anjum

    Bought this book from a hipster bookshop in Jerusalem from a very talkative shopkeeper and read it on my flight back to Copenhagen. Suad paints a realistic picture of a Palestinian life under the daily jerks and jolts of occupation. But she does so with a great sense of humor. The strangeness of this coping mechanism is hard to swallow. One must survive - why not do so laughing? A true tragicomedy.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Kath

    I enjoyed this book, not overmuch, but it was interesting. It wasn't as funny as it was sardonic. I can't believe some of the things the author has to deal with under occupation in Ramallah, and yet somehow continues to have a "normal" existence. I question as to how the world can be okay with curfews, lack of food, water and other basic needs as "normal." That's a bit problematic. The best story is the story about her dog. I won't explain. No spoilers. If you don't know much about Occupied Pale I enjoyed this book, not overmuch, but it was interesting. It wasn't as funny as it was sardonic. I can't believe some of the things the author has to deal with under occupation in Ramallah, and yet somehow continues to have a "normal" existence. I question as to how the world can be okay with curfews, lack of food, water and other basic needs as "normal." That's a bit problematic. The best story is the story about her dog. I won't explain. No spoilers. If you don't know much about Occupied Palestine, this book is a great place to start. You'll probably find the stories unbelievable, but they are actually, sadly, very real. It's just interesting to read them with a less tragic POV than most of the writing that comes out of there.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Kathy

    I liked this memoir very much. This left me angrier than before at the behaviour of the Israelis, truly uncalled for treatment of the innocent civilians of the West Bank. It also left a bad taste in regards to the US’s complicity as accomplice to the crimes committed in the West Bank by the Israelis. The treatment of residents in the West Bank receive and the total lack of care shown by the world is disgusting.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Janine Warrington

    Amiry artfully employs irony, humor, sarcasm, and a touch of magical realism to expose the horrors of living in occupied Palestine. This is a fascinating read, especially in 2020 when, while very different from Amiry's specific context, stay-at-home orders, wide-spread police brutality, and BLM protests give me an entry into her experiences under curfew and an oppressive and violent government. Highly recommend. Amiry artfully employs irony, humor, sarcasm, and a touch of magical realism to expose the horrors of living in occupied Palestine. This is a fascinating read, especially in 2020 when, while very different from Amiry's specific context, stay-at-home orders, wide-spread police brutality, and BLM protests give me an entry into her experiences under curfew and an oppressive and violent government. Highly recommend.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Layan

    A fantastic way to describe the occupation and living under constant curfews & the daily struggles Palestinians face. It is narrated in a very sarcastic and ironic way. This book will leave you crying because it is an emotional rollercoaster... It made me re-live all the memories of growing up during the Intafada and the daily harassments we face on checkpoints

  23. 4 out of 5

    Niamh Fennell

    There’s only so much one can learn/understand from news reports about the Palestine/Israel situation. This book offers such a heartbreaking yet necessary insight. I enjoyed this book, Amiry writes in such a way that is humorous yet very real. Although, I would say that I feel Amiry sometimes does more telling than showing, (but perhaps that is just a personal preference).

  24. 4 out of 5

    Lily Fox

    Great account of life under occupation in Palestine. A fairly light read despite heavy subject matter. You really get a sense of the chaos and despair as well as daily shows of strength of people living in this situation.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Alyaa Bakeer

    Not what I expected, but still very informative, entertaining and refreshing women's voice on the issue of Palestinian-Israeli struggle. Not what I expected, but still very informative, entertaining and refreshing women's voice on the issue of Palestinian-Israeli struggle.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Edith

    Enlightening first-person account of surviving in a war zone.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Belinda

    Wow! What an eye opener about people living in the occupied territories!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Alison

    A psychologist once told me that sharing funny anecdotes about things that were pretty upsetting at the time is how we reshape our memories: to make them bearable, to remind ourselves of our own resiliance; to bring our problems to our friends and feel connected with them. In other words, we can laugh and give ourselves strength and still talk about the hard stuff. This is completely on display in this short, funny vignettes into life under occupation. You can tell Amiry has written this to tell A psychologist once told me that sharing funny anecdotes about things that were pretty upsetting at the time is how we reshape our memories: to make them bearable, to remind ourselves of our own resiliance; to bring our problems to our friends and feel connected with them. In other words, we can laugh and give ourselves strength and still talk about the hard stuff. This is completely on display in this short, funny vignettes into life under occupation. You can tell Amiry has written this to tell anyone anything - she wrote it for herself, to reshape the experience by celebrating the absurdity of it all, and sharing that with her friends, and building collective strength. Consequently, it is a short and scattered read - there is little context provided, and no real through narrative. It doesn't need it - it is just a pleasure to read, as much for the belly laughs as for the insight and the reminder of the resiliance of the everyday. It also isn't a book about great tragedies. Rather, it is the infuriatingly impossibility of daily life under Israeli occupation on display. The constant harassment, inability to get to work or go shopping or get a pet vaccinated. I'm heartened by the fact that several schools have it as required reading, because this insight is as enlightening for why Palestine matters as all the statistics in the world. Also, it's like the fastest read ever!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Sitt

    It's an art to write amidst conflict zones in a very humorous way making fun of all situations that might be funny to the reader as the absurdity of the picture comes into the mind but it is of course not funny especially for those who have lived throughout these days in constant agony of the situation that is yet ignored by many westernised countries who suppose that such matters will be cleared on their own without any intervention. I hope this book so humorously written as it could be, has re It's an art to write amidst conflict zones in a very humorous way making fun of all situations that might be funny to the reader as the absurdity of the picture comes into the mind but it is of course not funny especially for those who have lived throughout these days in constant agony of the situation that is yet ignored by many westernised countries who suppose that such matters will be cleared on their own without any intervention. I hope this book so humorously written as it could be, has reached many readers thinking more thoroughly on the Israel /Palestinian crisis that is hanging on since many years without any solution in regard to any side, this novel should be taken as once hilarious on one side but also informative and truthful events in the eye of the beholder on the other. It was light and well written, to be read again instead of hidden behind inside the far corner of the library stacked behind, portraying the absurdity of what life itself can be, under occupation which is without doubt stranger than fiction.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Abdo

    Not quite finished, but loving this. It is a good story of one woman's life in the Occupied Territories. She goes through all of the frustrations and facts about Occupation that other books I've read do, but she does it with a humor that none of the others really taps into. Maybe she and I just have more similar senses of humor- cynical, dry. I also admire how gutsy she is. She expresses her frustration with the Occupation in rather unique ways (as far as I know). I wish I could do what she does Not quite finished, but loving this. It is a good story of one woman's life in the Occupied Territories. She goes through all of the frustrations and facts about Occupation that other books I've read do, but she does it with a humor that none of the others really taps into. Maybe she and I just have more similar senses of humor- cynical, dry. I also admire how gutsy she is. She expresses her frustration with the Occupation in rather unique ways (as far as I know). I wish I could do what she does if I lived in that situation! She feels the humiliation of implicating her friends and colleagues in the act of knowing her, frustration of not being able to go where you want when you want, and the utter ridiculousness of some of the Israeli rules, but instead of being defeated she reacts boldly, challenging these things directly with humor and sarcasm. It's so great to see this kind of spirit (in print- I'm sure she's not the only one).

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