What Do You Buy the Children of the Terrorist Who Tried to Kill Your Wife?

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Pages: 288
Subject: Biography, Politics
Imprint: Oneworld
Illustrations: Illustrationsstrations

What Do You Buy the Children of the Terrorist Who Tried to Kill Your Wife?

A Memoir

David Harris-Gershon

A man seeks out the Hamas bomber who changed his family’s life in this unflinching, mesmerizing literary debut
9781851689965 (22 Aug 2013)
RRP £12.99 / US$17.95

The Book

David Harris-Gershon and his wife, Jamie, moved to Jerusalem full of hope. Then, mere days after Israel thwarted historic cease-fire negotiations among the Palestinians, a bomb ripped open Hebrew University’s cafeteria. Jamie’s body was sliced with shrapnel; the friends sitting next to her were killed.

When a doctor handed David some of the shrapnel removed from Jamie’s body, he could not accept that this piece of metal changed everything. But it had. The bombing sent David on a psychological journey that found himdigging through shadowy politics and traumatic histories, eventually leading him back to East Jerusalem and the Hamas terrorist and his family. Not out of revenge. Out of desperation.

Part memoir, part journalistic investigation, this fearless debut confronts the personal costs of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and our capacity for recovery and reconciliation.

Additional Information

Subject Biography, Politics
Pages 288
Imprint Oneworld
Illustrations Illustrationsstrations


About the Author

David Harris-Gershon is an online columnist for Tikkun magazine and Daily Kos. The winner of the 2013 Moth Pittsburgh GrandSLAM Storytelling Championship, his writing has also appeared in the Jerusalem Review and several literary journals. He lives in Pittsburgh.



- Metro

 ‘Harris-Gershon’s book succeeds, at last, because he shows how easy it is to talk… Speaking to the Odeh family, he finds voices he can trust.’


'Harris-Gershon's honesty and humility give the memoir historical context, and ultimately elevate his story from the individual to the universal.'

- Time Out New York

'Brave and impressive.'

- Guardian

'Fierce... A tale of redemption and new beginnings and of truly embracing the other. Harris-Gershon's story is not really about Middle East politics so much as it is a story of healing—a debate about whether South African–style reconciliation and restorative dialogue can really bring about closure after an event of unspeakable pain and violence.'

- Slate

'It is a story about how a great personal trauma can lead to a journey that upends long-held beliefs and ideas. The terrific thing about this book is that the author manages to tell his story without sentimentality, grandiose pronouncements, or false humility. He pulls the reader in with his unpretentious, laconic style, and with his refusal to shy away from acknowledging his own flaws.'

- Daily Beast

'There is plenty of beauty and humor in Harris-Gershon's brisk page-turner . . .What Do You Buy doesn’t claim to make any prescription toward wider reconciliation between Palestinians and Israeli Jews, nor is it an interrogation of Zionism; this book's value is in Harris-Gershon's personal experience demonstrating humanity's capacity for reconciliation.'

- Electronic Intifada

'Inspiring and thought-provoking.'

- Haaretz

'This enormously compelling title smashes preconceived notions while delivering an unforgettable and provocative story about the roots of terrorism and the nature of victimhood... Bracing, intense, and relentless, this is a book about how we as humans get to the darkest of places and the questions we must ask to find our way out. A transformative reading experience.'

- Booklist

'An arduous, brave, messy, raw, emotional journey.'

- Kirkus Reviews

'David Harris-Gershon's prose and storytelling abilities are matched only by his deep and moving compassion and humanity, all of which spill out on every page of this amazing book.'

- Tim Wise, author of White Like Me

'Beautifully written, brave and compassionate.'

- Sarah Messer, author of Red House

'Immensely compelling and intelligent.'

- Richard Zimler, author of The Last Kabbalist of Lisbon