Fill in the adjectives

Gaza: Beneath the Bombs by Sharyn Lock with Sarah Irving (Pluto Press), reviewed by Andrea D'Cruz

June 3, 2010
2 min read

By the time I put it down, my copy of Gaza: Beneath the Bombs is creased up with a kennel’s worth of dog-ears. I folded over a corner for each passage that, in capturing the abject horror and amazing humanity of Gaza under Israeli attack (during December-January 2009 and beyond), was a must-recall for making The Case for Palestine.

Sharyn Lock entered Gaza as an International Solidarity Movement activist on a Free Gaza Movement boat. As a volunteer with the Red Crescent, she was at the centre of that horror and humanity. The medical services epitomise the pile-up of pain in Gaza. Already under strain from siege, they then have to contend with an insane and impossible mass of casualties; and as they do so, themselves come under direct attack by bullets, missiles and white phosphorus.

Being a blog-to-book enterprise, Gaza: Beneath the Bombs has its drawbacks. Entries jarringly alternate between tenses and it lacks an overarching narrative to pull the reader from page to page. This is not to suggest that Lock’s priority should be distilling Palestinian suffering into an easy literary experience but that readability is a key means to a vital end here: these stories so deserve and need to be read, and read widely.

The drawbacks are, however, a reasonable price to pay for the blog-to-book benefits. Lock kept her diary on a near-daily basis. She didn’t have time to step back and embellish; she simply tells us what she saw and what she heard that day. The spare adjectives, the spare emotion even (in a state of shock, Lock doesn’t cry over the corpses of children; she is without fear in terrifying circumstances), strips away the author and places us, the readers, in Gaza.

We fill in the adjectives, we feel the emotion. We also get lovely quotidian details, little asides that reveal big Palestinian generosity and Gazan humour. And so significant are these details when Israel’s actions rely on (and perpetuate) the dehumanisation of Gazans.

Pick up this book, read it, fold over the pages that tug and go re-tell those tales.


✹ Try our new pay-as-you-feel subscription — you choose how much to pay.

Greenwald speaks Trump, War on Terror, and citizen activism
Glenn Greenwald was interviewed by Amandla Thomas-Johnson over the phone from Brazil. Here is what he had to say on the War on Terror, Trump, and the 'special relationship'

Report from the second Citizen’s Assembly of Podemos
Sol Trumbo Vila says the mandate from the Podemos Assembly is to go forwards in unity and with humility

Protect our public lands
Last summer Indigenous people travelled thousands of miles around the USA to tell their stories and build a movement. Julie Maldonado reports

From the frontlines
Red Pepper’s new race editor, Ashish Ghadiali, introduces a new space for black and minority progressive voices

How can we make the left sexy?
Jenny Nelson reports on a session at The World Transformed

In pictures: designing for change
Sana Iqbal, the designer behind the identity of The World Transformed festival and the accompanying cover of Red Pepper, talks about the importance of good design

Angry about the #MuslimBan? Here are 5 things to do
As well as protesting against Trump we have a lot of work to get on with here in the UK. Here's a list started by Platform

Who owns our land?
Guy Shrubsole gives some tips for finding out

Don’t delay – ditch coal
Take action this month with the Coal Action Network. By Anne Harris

Utopia: Work less play more
A shorter working week would benefit everyone, writes Madeleine Ellis-Petersen

Mum’s Colombian mine protest comes to London
Anne Harris reports on one woman’s fight against a multinational coal giant

Bike courier Maggie Dewhurst takes on the gig economy… and wins
We spoke to Mags about why she’s ‘biting the hand that feeds her’

Utopia: Daring to dream
Imagining a better world is the first step towards creating one. Ruth Potts introduces our special utopian issue

A better Brexit
The left should not tail-end the establishment Bremoaners, argues Michael Calderbank

News from movements around the world
Compiled by James O’Nions

Podemos: In the Name of the People
'The emergence as a potential party of government is testament both to the richness of Spanish radical culture and the inventiveness of activists such as Errejón' - Jacob Mukherjee reviews Errejón and Mouffe's latest release

Survival Shake! – creative ways to resist the system
Social justice campaigner Sakina Sheikh describes a project to embolden young people through the arts

‘We don’t want to be an afterthought’: inside Momentum Kids
If Momentum is going to meet the challenge of being fully inclusive, a space must be provided for parents, mothers, carers, grandparents and children, write Jessie Hoskin and Natasha Josette

The Kurdish revolution – a report from Rojava
Peter Loo is supporting revolutionary social change in Northern Syria.

How to make your own media
Lorna Stephenson and Adam Cantwell-Corn on running a local media co-op

Book Review: The EU: an Obituary
Tim Holmes takes a look at John Gillingham's polemical history of the EU

Book Review: The End of Jewish Modernity
Author Daniel Lazar reviews Enzo Traverso's The End of Jewish Modernity

Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants
Ida-Sofie Picard introduces Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants – as told to Jenny Nelson

Book review: Angry White People: Coming Face to Face With the British Far-Right
Hilary Aked gets close up with the British far right in Hsiao-Hung Pai's latest release

University should not be a debt factory
Sheldon Ridley spoke to students taking part in their first national demonstration.

Book Review: The Day the Music Died – a Memoir
Sheila Rowbotham reviews the memoirs of BBC director and producer, Tony Garnett.

Power Games: A Political History
Malcolm Maclean reviews Jules Boykoff's Power Games: A Political History

Book Review: Sex, Needs and Queer Culture: from liberation to the post-gay
Aiming to re-evaluate the radicalism and efficacy of queer counterculture and rebellion - April Park takes us through David Alderson's new work.

A book review every day until Christmas at Red Pepper
Red Pepper will be publishing a new book review each day until Christmas

Book Review: Corbyn: The Strange Rebirth of Radical Politics
'In spite of the odds Corbyn is still standing' - Alex Doherty reviews Seymour's analysis of the rise of Corbyn


3