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A tragic accident in the Israeli occupied West Bank is the catalyst for a wider examination of the Arab-Israeli problem by Nathan Thrall, former Director of the Arab-Israeli Project at the International Crisis Group, the independent organisation based in Brussels which works ‘to prevent wars and shape policies that will build a more peaceful world’.
A Day in the Life of Abed Salama tells the story of the collision of a Palestinian school bus with a tractor trailer owned by an Israeli settler, on its way to gather stones in a West Bank quarry.
Due to be published in the US by Metropolitan Books in 2023, and simultaneously in the UK by Allen Lane, an imprint of Penguin Press, the title has also sold to Gallimard in France, with interest in many other countries according to Devon Mazzone, Vice President, Subsidiary Rights at Farrar, Straus and Giroux/Henry Holt and Company, and Metropolitan Books.
An early kernel of the book appeared in a viral piece in the New York Review of Books in March and was circulated in Congress by Democrat representative Ro Khanna. The piece has already garnered praise from Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the writer and civil rights advocate Michelle Alexander, the novelist JM Coetzee and the writer and academic Noam Chomsky.
Mazzone said: “We’ve just begun selling international rights. Arabic rights are free. We’ve not submitted to any Arabic publishers as of yet. We’re still just working off the article and a proposal.”
Metropolitan Books says: “Nathan Thrall brings together, in a single heart-breaking day, a small cast of characters whose interwoven lives make up an intricate tapestry of the modern history of the Holy Land. The book will also make the case that the Palestine-Israeli conflict is increasingly best understood as a system of apartheid.”
In the UK, Penguin Press commissioning editor Maria Bedford concluded acquired the title from Mazzone after a three-way auction. She said: “We are thrilled to welcome Nathan Thrall to Allen Lane with this important and spellbinding book. Exquisitely written, A Day in the Life of Abed Salama will bring readers into the lived reality of life on the ground in Palestine: the sensations, the emotions, and the way history resonates through daily life. Telling the story of one man’s quest to find his son within the labyrinth of Israeli rule, and weaving this narrative together with a rich tapestry of historical detail, Nathan Thrall shows us not only the human cost of this conflict but also how we must reach a new understanding of what it has become. This book will leave every reader changed.
Thrall is the author of The Only Language They Understand: Forcing Compromise in Israel and Palestine (Metropolitan/Henry Holt, 2017). He is a contributor to The New York Times Magazine, and has written frequently for the London Review of Books and The New York Review of Books.
Commenting on the UK sale of Abed Salama he said: “In Allen Lane/Penguin Press and Maria Bedford, I’ve found a perfect editorial partner. I couldn’t be more pleased to be working with them to bring this book into the world.”