Excerpt from It's Easier to Reach Heaven Than the End of the Street by Emma Williams, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

It's Easier to Reach Heaven Than the End of the Street

A Jerusalem Memoir

by Emma Williams

It's Easier to Reach Heaven Than the End of the Street
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • Paperback:
    Dec 2009, 384 pages

  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
Kim Kovacs

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

The fear the general had talked about was a shackle for every Israeli, hanging round their future. It put a block on life. Life continued, but with the drag of anxiety. And then there’d be a heartstopping boom across the valleys and the fear flooded back and took over as you tallied where everyone was. Family first: kids, husband. Then friends. Colleagues. After that you give yourself the all-clear and push back the fear and out into the normal again. You feel bad being callous, but you have to carry on, as normal. Everyone does. How different everything had been when we’d arrived in Israel: the hope, the landscape, and the future. I had been changed by living here, stuck between the two communities, Israeli and Palestinian, moving from one to the other, hearing from each side about fear and hate and rage, facing the same things but as an outsider, and finding myself torn between the two.

The day before seeing General Gilad I was in the Occupied Territories.* Perhaps that was where the tire had acquired its puncture, not as I drove eastward on the new broad settler roads on the long detour around the new Security Barrier, but on the rough roads for Palestinian traffic as I looped back again to reach al-Quds University in Abu Dis, a suburb on the edge of Jerusalem. I was there to meet a German friend, Daniel, and wait for him to finish giving his lecture on graphic design before we headed off to Hebron. To the east of al-Quds lies the Judean desert, to the north and west the city of Jerusalem. Not far south, along the line of hills, is Bethlehem, with the city of Hebron beyond.

One ofDaniel’s Palestinian university friends, also waiting to see him, came up and said hello. Ghassan and I sat on a low stone wall in the spring sun under the olive trees of the campus grounds. Beyond us, on the sports fields, construction workers and cranes were slotting together towering slabs of concrete to form another wall, the wall. The rest of Abu Dis, and Jerusalem, lay on the other side.

We looked across the valley at the winding wall, and at the new Israeli settlements going up amid the remaining Palestinian areas, and at the roads linking the settlements that are not for use by Palestinians. “We must go the long way round,” said Ghassan, “if we are allowed to move at all.”

Ghassan was born in Jerusalem, not far from where we were sitting, at the hospital where I had worked, but the Israeli authorities classify him as a Palestinian from the territories, a “West Banker,” and therefore a Palestinian not entitled to live in Jerusalem. His wife, who is also Palestinian, and who, like Ghassan, works at al-Quds University, is defined as a Jerusalem resident. “The Israeli law does not allow us to live together,” Ghassan explained.* They used to live as a couple, breaking Israel’s rules, in their home in the Jerusalem suburb of Ras al-Amud, but now there is the Wall physically dividing them. Ghassan has to live with relatives on the West Bank side of the Wall, in Abu Dis.

“It’s the control that’s the worst. Israel controls every aspect of my life: where I can and cannot go, when, whether or not I can get to work, what roads I can use, even whether or not I can leave my house. They will not let me build on the land that remains to me—the settlers have taken the rest. With their wall and their permits they want to cut me off from my family, my friends, and my city. And my wife.”

“Can you go to Jerusalem to visit her?”

He frowned at the question but said very slowly: “They won’t let any Palestinians into the Holy City without a permit.” Ghassan was formal, somber. Part of his voice had anger in it, but he held it in a dark place and what I heard was sorrow. “And you can only have a permit, in theory, if you are over 29 and are married and have children.” “And you’re not?” He didn’t look very old. His black hair was cut short and square, his clothes were pressed and neat, his shoes polished, with a tidemark of today’s dust about the toes.

Excerpted from It's Easier to Reach Heaven Than the End of the Street by Emma Williams. Copyright © 2009 by Emma Williams. Excerpted by permission of Interlink Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

One-Month Free Membership

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Here I Am
    Here I Am
    by Jonathan Safran Foer
    With almost all the accoutrements of upper middle-class suburban life, Julia and Jacob Bloch fit the...
  • Book Jacket: Harmony
    by Carolyn Parkhurst
    In previous novels such as The Dogs of Babel and Lost and Found, Carolyn Parkhurst has shown herself...
  • Book Jacket: Commonwealth
    by Ann Patchett
    Opening Ann Patchett's novel Commonwealth about two semi-functional mid-late 20th Century ...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Tea Planter's Wife
    by Dinah Jefferies

    An utterly engrossing, compulsive page-turner set in 1920s Ceylon.

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Darling Days
    by iO Tillett Wright

    A devastatingly powerful memoir of one young woman's extraordinary coming of age.

    Read Member Reviews

Book Discussions
Book Jacket
Under the Udala Trees
by Chinelo Okparanta

Raw, emotionally intelligent and unflinchingly honest--a triumph.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win Blood at the Root

Blood at the Root

"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
- PW Starred Review


Word Play

Solve this clue:

D C Y C Before T A H

and be entered to win..

Books that     

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.


Free Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with what's happening in the world of books:
Reviews, previews, interviews and more!

Spam Free: Your email is never shared with anyone; opt out any time.