Review by Mirian Walton and Alan Goter, Shrewsbury, England 24 April 2008
This excellent first novel authentically explores the motives and feelings behind the conflict in Israel and Palestine as portrayed in the lives and relationship of two American Jewish women and their families. Lisa Saffron has succeeded in presenting one of the world’s most intractable and sensitive problems in a highly readable and accessible format. A subtle blend of flashback, narrative, fantasy and historical fact brings to life the reality of the occupation for Palestinians and Israelis.
The destructive consequences of Israel's occupation of Palestine on family life on ‘both sides of the checkpoint’ makes, at times, harrowing reading. The author does not flinch from portraying the violence and heartbreak which accompany this conflict. However, the humour and sympathy she brings to the well-drawn and believable characters and situations invite the reader’s understanding rather than judgement.
Political dysfunction and the denial of history are subtly echoed in the description of family dysfunction and the denial of feelings, the high price of which is brought home in Checkpoint. The emotional causes and consequences of the conflict are woven into both the narrative and the plot. Any reader unfamiliar with the reality of life in Israel-Palestine will be shown the surprising extent to which peoples’ lives are intertwined and how the consequences of any action reverberate through psyches and relationships on a personal as well as a political level.
Checkpoint is highly recommended reading for anyone who enjoys a well-crafted novel, whether or not they have a prior interest in this issue or have already made up their minds about it . It makes challenging reading for those with fixed ideas of ‘Zionists’ and ‘Islamists’. In the end the reader is left with a strong and moving reminder of the common humanity that binds us all and makes a mockery of the politics.
Causes Lisa Saffron Supports
Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD)
Jewish Voice for Peace
Compassionate Listening Project