Sometimes I think I didn’t go far enough in Olives. Sometimes I read accounts from friends in the West Bank, blog posts and emails that make me wonder why I was so light-handed in the way I presented the history of the fictional Dajani family in the book. Some, of course, will argue that I went way too far and have presented a highly one-sided and mendacious account of a history of which I know nothing.
Every week canisters of tear gas fly through the air at Nabih Saleh, demonstrators beaten away with clouds of choking gas. Every day there are stories of armed fanatics attacking farmers. Every year the olive harvest is a flashpoint and the stories of olive trees being continually uprooted are distressingly frequent. These narratives all too rarely make it into Western media. And when they do, they are often presented in a voice that is too partisan for people to feel comfortable with the message.
So when I do occasionally worry that the book doesn’t present enough of the conflict, violence and inhuman treatment of innocents, I usually content myself with the thought that Olives tells just a little of a bigger story, but hopefully gets enough across to interest people in delving a little deeper and perhaps looking at what’s happening a little more critically. Which is a part, at least, of what I set out to do with the book.