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Mar 29, 2007 at 09:24 PM

Fiction under occupation -
The gospel according to Monsieur le Wazzo

Sparrow Story, by David Rhodes
(Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, prbk; £9.99)
Reviewed by Jenny Lynn

Cover of Sparrow Story"Take a country languishing under a brutal military occupation, where bulldozers tear down homes, bored young soldiers shoot as soon as look at you, and children are shot dead for throwing stones. It’s this situation, only too familiar to anyone interested in the ongoing saga of Israel/Palestine, that is the setting for a powerful modern-day gospel story by David Rhodes. Narrated in the pacey present tense, echoing crime writers like Damon Runyon, the story fairly races along in a sequence of short, action-packed episodes. Unusually, the author has put the story-telling in the mouth of a sparrow with attitude, nicknamed ‘Monsieur le Wazzo’ by the first character we meet, a hard-drinking newspaper reporter called Johnny Palotski..."

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Rachel Corrie's family – father Craig, mother Cindy and sister Sarah Corrie Simpson – at the Haifa district court where a judge ruled that Israel did not intentionally kill the pro-Palestinian activist in 2003. Photograph: Oliver Weiken/EPA

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But the difficulty lies in what then to call the Israeli army when it, too, at particular times and places, has used indiscriminate killing and terror as a means of breaking Palestinian civilians. One of those places was Rafah, in the southern tip of the Gaza strip, where Rachel Corrie was crushed by a military bulldozer nine years ago as she tried to stop the Israeli army going about its routine destruction of Palestinian homes.

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