#IsraelPalestineSeries: Jerusalem, Drawn and Quartered | No. 9
Jerusalem, Drawn and Quartered: One Woman’s Year in the Heart of the Christian, Muslim, Armenian, and Jewish Quarters of Old Jerusalem
Author: Sarah Tuttle-Singer
Published: May 2018
Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing
I haven’t posted anything in my Israel-Palestine series all year, but fear not I haven’t abandoned it and I’m glad to get the series going again with this gem; Jerusalem, Drawn and Quartered by Sarah Tuttle-Singer. Tuttle-Singer, an Israeli-American journalist, decided to spend a year living in the Old City in each of the four quarters; Christian, Armenian, Muslim and Jewish. She meets remarkable people, hears their stories of life and develops her own routines and patterns as she makes her home in the city’s ancient walls. This book is a stunning reminder that underneath all the conflict and political turmoil you hear about in Jerusalem, everyday life goes on for its inhabitants.
What I loved
The authors love for the Jerusalem is clear, and she herself declares this to be a love story. The book is interspersed with stories of her life before moving to Israel and eventually moving to the Old City. As she tells you about her first tastes of the city as a teenager it’s clear that she’s always had a heart for the city and been drawn to it. She gets Jerusalem. She gets people, she can relate, and she knows how to listen. She shares her own story of being stoned by the Damascus gate as a teenager and I love that this never caused her to harden her heart to the city or its people. In sharing her own stories and fears she listens to other people’s. She has a remarkable ability to understand, to show compassion and kindest and empathy and you can see how she passes this on to her children in the book. In the midst of the tension and volatility in the city she presents the relatable human side.
This book is beautifully written, although she is a journalist the stories aren’t relayed in that condescending journalist style that is so prominent in books by journalists. Many of the juxtapositions of the city are reflected in the author and the way she writes. The writing is simultaneously funny and moving. I found myself laughing aloud on the train with my eyes filled with tears of sadness as she tells the story of her dying mother biting her on the arm during an argument. The author is both a lion and a mouse. I cheered when she yelled at a guy for groping her on a train and recoiled at other moments of abuse in the book when she doesn’t do the same. I loved this mixture of emotions that runs throughout the book because it reflects the mixture of emotions that runs throughout Jerusalem.
I’m going to start wrapping this up because I don’t like long reviews, and I don’t want to start adding spoilers. This book is released in May and it is available in the U.K. (and worldwide) through Amazon here. If you want a taste of Tuttle-Singer’s writing and a preview of some of the stories in the book you can read her blog for the Times of Israel here.
If like me you love Jerusalem, or if you know me and have never understood why I love Jerusalem – you must read this book! Hopefully it will provide a glimpse into the magic of this city. This quirky, surprising, holy, beautiful city!