Interview on Mondoweiss

I don’t see a viable future for Israelis or Palestinians that doesn’t involve some kind of reworking of collective memory for each people, one that allows for – not a common narrative, but a space that can hold both people’s histories, that gives room for both peoples to live in the land.”

Mondoweiss published a feature-length interview on the weekend: “Jo Roberts on Jewish trauma, the Nakba, and the olive tree.” You can read it online here.

Second place in Dayton Literary Peace Prize!

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I’m delighted to announce that Contested Land, Contested Memory is the runner-up for the 2014 nonfiction Dayton Literary Peace Prize!

Faith Adiele, finalist judge, said of Contested Land, Contested Memory: “Jo Roberts’ theories on social suffering and memory narrative resonate across history and culture. Readers from every region in the world will find parallels to their own and gain understanding. As I read, I was applying her analysis to situations with which I am intimately familiar, from post-colonial Africa to recent events in American inner cities. Just as we might be tempted to think there is nothing new to learn about modern Israel and the Palestinian conflict … comes this lyrical and balanced book advocating a path towards reconciliation based on the notion that a fractured relationship can only heal when both parties open themselves to regard the pain of the other.”

Inspired by the 1995 Dayton Peace Accords that ended the war in Bosnia, the Dayton Literary Peace Prize is the only international literary peace prize awarded in the United States. The Prize celebrates the power of literature to promote peace, social justice, and global understanding. I very much look forward to attending the award ceremony in November.

Sara Friedlander’s “Stonewalled in Jerusalem”


Sara Friedlander’s interactive sculptural art installation “Stonewalled in Jerusalem” is a moving and provocative engagement with the Holocaust and the Nakba. Found images and her own photographs form intimate collages of the co-inhabitants of Jerusalem, “haunted and separated by the ghosts of the past.” You can explore her work here.

First two reviews!

The second review of Contested Land, Contested Memory has come out.

In the first, Publishers Weekly commented that

Roberts does a masterful job of presenting all perspectives in their proper context.”

Now, in Embassy, Canada’s foreign policy weekly, senior editor Jim Creskey writes:

Contested Land, Contested Memory offers an important look at the complexity that is the state of Israel.
Roberts travelled extensively across Israel, meeting with Jewish and Palestinian Israelis. The result is a thoughtful probing of the two traumas that remain central to Israel.
Her writing has academic credibility and personal appeal. If that sounds unlikely, it is. Only a writer as good as Roberts could make it work — but work it does, as it proceeds to unravel Israel’s paradoxical political identity. …
Contested Land, Contested Memory offers a nuanced understanding that comes from a smartly-guided tour of those Israeli polarities. I strongly recommend Roberts’ eloquent visit to Israel’s bold and painful past and present.”

Toronto Book Launch

Over 90 people came out to the Toronto launch of
Contested Land, Contested Memory: Israel’s Jews and Arabs and the Ghosts of Catastrophe. The event was held on September 15 at The Sister, on Queen Street West. So good to see so many old friends!

Jo Roberts reading from Contested Land, Contested Memory at her Toronto book launch

Jo Roberts reading from Contested Land, Contested Memory at her Toronto book launch