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  • Published: 16 November 2023
  • ISBN: 9781802066012
  • Imprint: Penguin Audio
  • Format: Audio Download
  • RRP: $32.00

A Day in the Life of Abed Salama

A Palestine Story

A gripping, intimate story of one heartbreaking day in Palestine that reveals lives, loves, enmities, and histories in violent collision

Milad is five years old and excited for his school trip to a theme park on the outskirts of Jerusalem, but tragedy awaits: his bus is involved in a horrific accident. His father, Abed, rushes to the chaotic site, only to find Milad has already been taken away. Abed sets off on a journey to learn Milad's fate, navigating a maze of physical, emotional, and bureaucratic obstacles he must face as a Palestinian.

Interwoven with Abed's odyssey are the stories of Jewish and Palestinian characters whose lives and pasts unexpectedly converge: a kindergarten teacher and a mechanic who rescue children from the burning bus; an Israeli army commander and a Palestinian official who confront the aftermath at the scene of the crash; a settler paramedic; ultra-Orthodox emergency service workers; and two mothers who each hope to claim one severely injured boy.

A Day in the Life of Abed Salama is a deeply immersive, stunningly detailed portrait of life in Israel and Palestine, and an illumination of the reality of one of the most contested places on earth.

  • Published: 16 November 2023
  • ISBN: 9781802066012
  • Imprint: Penguin Audio
  • Format: Audio Download
  • RRP: $32.00

Praise for A Day in the Life of Abed Salama

Praise for original NYRB article: Beautifully written, even as it shares a devastating truth

Michelle Alexander

Praise for the original NYRB article: I pray that Thrall's article will remind President Joe Biden of the courageous stance he took against apartheid in South Africa as a senator. I hope that it will provide a mirror which shows that the very same type of laws that he opposed in South Africa are now instrumental in oppressing Palestinians, from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean

Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Praise for the original NYRB article: One of the best pieces I have read on Palestine

J. M. Coetzee

Praise for the original NYRB article: A strong article by Nathan Thrall-a very, very strong article

Noam Chomsky

Praise for the original NYRB article: Nathan Thrall's heart-wrenching essay lays bare the essential truth of Israel's occupation of the West Bank: Palestinians live under apartheid. And we in the U.S. subsidize this illegal operation to the tune of $3.8 billion a year. 'A Day in the Life of Abed Salama' needs to be read by everyone. Every word, from beginning to end. And then we need to do something about it

Robin D. G. Kelley

Nathan Thrall's book made me walk a lot. I found myself pacing around between chapters, paragraphs and sometimes even sentences just in order to be able to absorb the brutality, the pathos, the steely tenderness, and the sheer spectacle of the cunning and complex ways in which a state can hammer down a people and yet earn the applause and adulation of the civilized world for its actions

Arundhati Roy

It is hard to think of another book that gives such a poignant, deeply human face to the ongoing tragedy of Palestine. Thrall's evocation of both a terrible crisis and the daily humiliations of life under occupation is nothing short of heartbreaking

Adam Hochschild

This brilliant and heartbreaking book is a masterpiece. It reads like a novel, yet is all sadly true. I finished it in tears

James Rebanks

In this luminous story of Palestinians striving to live under Israeli rule, there is much cruelty. But there is also great love - of parents for their children, of lovers for their beloved, and of people for their home. This book is transformative

Andre Aciman

A towering achievement. I've not read anything like it. Thrall takes the bureaucracy and infrastructure of apartheid and uses them to tell a painfully emotional, personal story

Omar Robert Hamilton

In excavating the site of a single tragedy, Nathan Thrall uncovers the sprawling architecture of oppression that dominates Palestinian lives. His writing propels the reader across a geography that is partitioned behind walls and into enclaves, revealing in visceral, human detail what Israeli subjugation means, and how it shapes the most intimate corners of the Palestinian experience. With empathy and grace, Thrall transforms this incomprehensible, avoidable loss into an ode to a father's love

Tareq Baconi

This impressive book brings the reader through a detailed set of human histories, relationships and experiences, all stemming out from one horrible incident and one Palestinian family affected by it. It shows us how everything in these Palestinians' daily lives - from the mundane to the catastrophic - has been controlled, contained and shaped under Israeli rule. Amid their struggle to survive, Nathan Thrall documents the best and worst of humanity: pride, bravery, love, stupidity, callousness and cruelty

Sally Hayden

A brilliant and heart-wrenching book that captures the daily tragedy of Palestinian life under Israeli occupation better than any other I have read. An outstanding achievement and a must read

Eugene Rogan

The book combines heart-wrenching prose with rare political insight. It tells a deeply moving story about one tragic road accident, which illuminates the tragedy of the millions of Palestinians who live under Israeli Occupation

Yuval Noah Harari

Reading this Middle East expert’s account of a Palestinian worker and activist and the death of his angelic 5-year-old son, Malid, is tough — and necessary. The bus accident that took the boy’s life in 2012 was caused in no small part by the neglected infrastructure that makes Palestinian Jerusalem a miserable, dangerous place to live. By narrowing the focus to one family’s loss, Thrall humanizes the consequences of systemic decay

Bethanne Patrick, LA Times

A powerful evocation of a two-tiered society that treats children as potential combatants

New Yorker, Best Books Out Now

A penetrating, wide-ranging, heart-wrenching exploration of life in Palestine under Israeli occupation. I know of no other writing on Israel & Palestine that reaches this depth of perception & understanding

David Shulman, New York Review of Books

Thrall is one of the few writers who can combine vivid storytelling with in-depth analysis of the occupation... his expertise allows him to shuttle nimbly between the viewpoints of frantic families and Palestinian leaders as well as Israeli officials and nearby settlers

Rozina Ali, New York Times

A masterpiece... an extraordinary achievement

James North, Mondoweiss

An important book… one that closely examines the intricacies of injustice perpetrated on the Palestinian population by the Israeli government, its systems and plenty of its Jewish citizens

Ilana Masad, Washington Post

A Day in the Life of Abed Salama unveils the tragedy of Palestine through one grieving father … offering a cogent and concise history of the violence and many injustices that have marked life in Palestinians’ shrinking territories

Stuart Miller, LA Times

Thrall captures both the universality and the specificity of the experiences of Palestinians living under Israeli Occupation... the book builds a relentless case that this crash and the ensuing trauma must be remembered. It was all so predictable - and could easily happen again


A deeply immersive portrait of daily life in Israel and the West Bank arranged around the story of a Palestinian child and a school trip that ends in tragedy following a traffic accident. Weaving together the ordinary and interwoven lives of Jewish and Palestinian inhabitants, Thrall, a Jerusalem-based author and journalist, illuminates the complex realities of one of the world’s most contested regions

The Best Books to Understand the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Financial Times

Magnificent… The book does what all good stories should do – it unfolds both minutely and epically at the same time. It does not moralise, and yet it does not shirk its responsibility to knock our sense of comfortable balance all to hell…. The nature of injustice is such that we may not always see it in our own times, but history will hold us accountable. That’s why Thrall’s book, and those like it, are so important

The Irish Times

Clear-eyed... A long and powerful book of reportage… Unflinching clarity. At a time when facts have become weapons in this seemingly endless conflict, this is a book that speaks with truth of ordinary lives trapped in the jaws of history