Meet Me in Gaza: Uncommon Stories of Life Inside the Strip

Louisa Waugh

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How do people and goods get in and out of Gaza? Do Gazans ever have fun? Is the Strip beautiful? And do TV reports actually reflect ordinary life inside the world's largest open-air prison?

Meet Me in Gaza reveals the pleasures and pains, hopes and frustrations of Gazans going about their daily lives, witnessed and recounted by award-winning writer Louisa Waugh.

Interspersed with fascinating historical, cultural and geographical detail, this is an evocative portrait of a Mediterranean country and its people.


"Louisa Waugh has written a book that celebrates Gaza, its joys, its iron will to survive in the face of adversary and the humour that sustains its people. Louisa s book penetrates the surface, the dismal images that we have become all too familiar with from news coverage of the Strip, to reveal the more human face of the place, that few have been able to experience let alone describe. Unlike any other book about Gaza, this will please, educate and inspire rather than depress. It is vividly written and is infused with a love of life that the author has exhibited in all her previous writing." --Raja Shehadeh, author of 'Palestinian Walks'

"A moving and fascinating insight into life in Gaza ... Because Waugh stays so long I've begun to feel I know what life is like there, the weariness and terror, the unexpected pleasures, and the many, many invitations to dinner." --
Esther Freud, author of 'Lucky Break' and 'Hideous Kinky'

"In this powerful and deeply heartfelt book, Louisa Waugh has succeeded in showing us the true face of Gaza. We encounter Palestinians in their living rooms, at work, in cafés, and at parties and weddings. In bringing Gaza to life, she has highlighted the commonalities between us. I urge everyone to read this." --
Izzeldin Abuelaish, author of 'I Shall Not Hate'

"The power and value of this brave account lies ... in her description of the people of Gaza and the lives they live. [Waugh] quotes the Gazan poet Soumaya Susi, who explained that to live in Gaza, you must create your own secret world. This is Waugh's secret world, inhabited by people living under two occupations: Hamas and Israel, but who still find pride in their history and pleasure in their communities and on the beach." --
Anthony Sattin, Sunday Times

"Combining history, political reportage and personal stories, this book does not shirk from the grim physical and mental conditions in Gaza. However, in its portrait of the spirit, dignity and resourcefulness of these beleaguered people, Meet Me In Gaza is a valuable corrective to the Western media view of a territory capable only of suffering. Waugh finds laughter, rage, resistance and beauty in Gaza and even, despite all the odds, hope. Her honest and big-hearted celebration of the Gazan people deserves the warmest welcome." --
New Internationalist

"A riveting, revealing and poignant account." --
Mariella Frostrup, BBC4 Open Book

"Meet Me in Gaza is a vivid, humane and important book. Please read it." --
A Life in Books

"Not many of us would have the courage to lay ourselves on the line and go and live in the Gaza strip. I'd rather somebody else did it for me, to show my solidarity with the beleaguered Palestinians; and, of just about anybody I can think of, I d like it to be Louisa Waugh. In Meet Me In Gaza she shows her extraordinary credentials for this courageous undertaking: a deep wellspring of human warmth, a tenacious ability to find the tiny spark of joy in the most dismal surroundings, to seek out beauty amongst ugliness, an incontrovertible honesty, and then the eloquence to tell us the story and make us understand. She is not drawn in to easy sentimentality, nor to knee-jerk reactions. She treads a steady line of reason through all the absurdities and horrors she encounters, and comes up with a tender portrait of beleaguered humanity. This is what we do: we adapt, manage, carry on, even in the most appalling circumstances; but when it is told this well, the story cannot be told too often." --
Chris Stewart

"An admirable book..." --
The Economist

"It is at long last welcome to find a book that is gentle and subtle in its rendering of the life faced by most Gazans...Waugh is able to sift nuggets of humanity from the most depressing of circumstances, making this ultimately an uplifting book. … Poignant, eloquent and perceptive." 
David Pratt, Sunday Herald

"The characters and moments [Waugh] brings to life are both deeply moving and deeply disturbing. Whilst she does not make victims out of the people she meets, the reader is still able to feel empathy, respect and ultimately a desire to meet them at one of their parties, eat their delicious food and chat to them about their families, home, work, and their life under Israeli occupation." --
Middle East Monitor

"Excellent ... It is not just the anecdotes that Waugh recounts, or her undoubted skill in selecting them, which make this book such a terrific read. It is also her wonderful way with words, even on the grimmest of subjects. ... The beautiful normality of people shines from each page ordinary, quirky people forced to live in the most brutal of situations, coping one day after another. Waugh's book is a worthy tribute to them." 
Electronic Intifada

"The author kept a journal ... that takes the reader under the surface of the contemporary Gaza Strip. She also weaves Gaza's rich but largely overlooked history through the text. It is the work of a gifted writer who observes sensitively, but not uncritically, the Gazans she meets and befriends. The book is, therefore, a welcome addition to the few existing titles on the Gaza shelf." --
Gerald Butt, The Middle East in London.
Louisa Waugh lived and worked in the Gaza Strip from December 2007 to April 2009. Her other works include Hearing Birds Fly: A Nomadic Year in Mongolia, which won the 2004 inaugural Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize, and Selling Olga: Stories of Human Trafficking and Resistance.

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