A Month by the Sea by Dervla Murphy

3.5 out of 5 stars

Living in Gaza is just like living in a prison. On one side is the blockade that stops almost all people getting in or out, and there is a sea blockade in place that stops boats for venturing from the shore too far. It is not a place that is high on most people wish list for visiting, but spare a thought for the people that have to live there. Getting in was not going to be easy, but Dervla Murphy is tenacious. The regular route was shut down and then she had an opportunity to get in via Egypt, took it and got in.

This wasn’t going to be a fleeting visit like a lot of reporters either, she was intending to stay a whole month and get to know the people and see how they coped with day to day basic living in their prison. The media portrays the Palestinians as a radicalised people fighting and who are prepared to go to any lengths to strike terror against the state of Israel. What she finds there is utterly different to what she was expecting.

Yes, there are radical young men and women there who have no other channels to direct their anger, but there is also a population who are doing their very best to just get on with life, who have had enough of the fighting and pain and loss of loved ones. A people who long for a peace process that would mean they could get back on with their lives.

Puzzled by my lack of journalistic equipment: no camera, no tape recorder, not even a notebook and pencil. I explained that I don’t like interviewing people, I just like talking with them.

Murphy is prepared to go out and talk to people about how they feel and understand just how incredibly difficult struggle daily life is. She hears about the random attached that just happen with little or almost no warning, attacks that seem to be designed with the maximum amount of cruelty. She tries to think rationally about the situation and circumstances that they are under, as well as spending time question the motives and processes behind each sides actions. Seeing the evidence around her each day makes her think about the slender hopes for peace and the utter pain that she has from seeing the hypocrisy from both sides and how a people that suffered from horrific genocide and during the holocaust have elements in the society that seem to inflict it on another people. This is an uncompromising read seen from the perspective of an old Irish lady who grew up in a land that had similar problems, Ireland. It might not suit everyone, but if you like a challenging book, give it a read.

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  1. Liz Dexter

    Fascinating. Is this a fairly new publication? I didn’t know she was still writing.

    • Paul

      This was a library book and was published in 2016.

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