The Prince will share a number of lessons from his life
The Duke of Sussex will be revealing a number of “mistakes and lessons learned” from his life in a memoir to be published next year.
Prince Harry announced the publishing deal with Penguin Random House saying he would share all the “highs and lows” and be “accurate and wholly truthful”.
Prince Harry, who with his wife Meghan Markle, stepped back from royal duties last year, will be donating the proceeds to charity.
Penguin has not disclosed the details of the deal.
Harry has said in a statement that he will not be writing the book as the “prince he was born as but as the man he has become”.
He also said: “I’ve worn many hats over the years, both literally and figuratively, and my hope is that in telling my story – the highs and lows, the mistakes, the lessons learned – I can help show that no matter where we come from, we have more in common than we think.
“I’m deeply grateful for the opportunity to share what I’ve learned over the course of my life so far and excited for people to read a firsthand account of my life that’s accurate and wholly truthful.”
Markus Dohle from Penguin Random House has described the duke as being among “world-renowned leaders, icons, and change-makers we have been privileged to publish over the years”.
A press release from the publishing company has described the book as “intimate and heartfelt” and “honest and moving”.
It also said: “Prince Harry will offer an honest and captivating personal portrait, one that shows readers that behind everything they think they know lies an inspiring, courageous, and uplifting human story.”
I Color Myself Different will be released on 5th April 2022
Colin Kaepernick has just announced he will be releasing a children’s book in 2022 that will be inspired by his own life.
The book, entitled I Color Myself Different, will be published on the 5th of April next year though his own publishing company and Scholastic. According to a statement from the athletes media company this is the first in a multi-book deal. The book’s illustrations will be handled by Eric Wilkerson.
“This story is deeply personal to me, and inspired by real events in my life. I hope that it honors the courage and bravery of young people everywhere by encouraging them to live with authenticity and purpose,” Kaepernick announced in a press release. “I’m excited for Kaepernick Publishing to be collaborating with Scholastic on books with Black and brown voices at the forefront. I hope that our books will inspire readers to walk through the world with confidence, strength and truth in all they do.”
Kaepernick’s work is a picture book “inspired by a significant childhood memory of when Kaepernick first documented that he was different from his adopted white family”, Scholastic has said in a press release. “During a kindergarten exercise on drawing families, Kaepernick remembers putting down the yellow crayon he had been using to draw his family and picking up the brown crayon for himself.
This moment crystallized for him the differences marked by his adoption, and how acknowledging those distinctions could encourage us all to be more accepting of ourselves and each other.”
Colin Kaepernick became a national symbol in the US for racial justice when he first decided to take a knee during the US national anthem before a San Francisco 49ers preseason match back in 2016.
He did so to draw attention to police brutality and systemic racism in the US. Since the end of that season Kapernick has not found a team. NFL teams stand accused of blackballing him simply because of his political stance.
Ellie Berger, president of Scholastic said: “Colin Kaepernick’s inspiring story, with themes of identity, race and self-esteem, will resonate deeply with all kids.”
Let’s kick off with a warning before I start this review. Pat Luther’s Yellow Tape and Coffee is a big book, and I mean a really big book. The print version is 706 pages long, that’s not an easy undertaking for anybody, let alone the casual reader. I think that might put some people off and that’s a huge shame because this is a very good book.
Yellow Tape and Coffee follows a number of different but interwined stories, stories that bring to life four different people from various backgrounds all with their own agendas and ideals.
For four hundred years a secret society of werewolves has remained hidden in Portland, Oregon. Some people want nothing more than to reveal this society, while others will do anything to maintain the status quo. Intriguing right?
For the most part the book is chocked full of action and great character development. There are moments of dullness I have to say but that has to be expected in a book of such epic scale and vision.
The biggest difficulty for me in reading Yellow Tape and Coffee was getting over my initial prejudice about one of its main selling points, werewolves are just not my thing. I think they’re boring, tedious and over done.
I’m thankful to say though that I was wrong. Pat Luther has managed to breathe new life into this over-milked cow.
I have to give special mention to Luther’s writing talents. His work is filled to the brim with wonderful imagery and description while managing to remain concise and flowing. The novel is also well edited, for being 706 pages long there’s little to nothing I would be happy putting in the bin. Some of the dialogue felt a little over bloated sure but for the most I’d personally want nothing to change.
As for the multiple view points this is not really my cup of tea, I like a concise story where I can really get to know one character really well. At points I did dislike the jumping from one person to another but once I’d gotten used to it it was no problem at all. In fact I learnt to findthe mix of characters enthralling, each one was as vivid and intriguing as the last.
The female lead Veer needs special mention however, she is sharp, intelligent and a fierce investing reporter who is uniquely well written. A true example of female protagonist writing done well.
Overall Yellow Tape and Coffee is more than a solid debut, it’s a magnificent one and Pat Luther is certainly one to check out and keep an eye on. He has managed to balance suspense, humour, a little bit of terror and drama in a delightfully composed cocktail of literature.
I would love a sequel to this novel but whatever he writes next will certainly be on my list.
Public support for the England striker has seen sales of his children’s book soar
England footballer Marcus Rashford’s children’s book ‘You Are a Champion’ has just shot to the top of the charts following England’s defeat to Italy in the Euro 2020 final.
The book is a guide for young people in which the footballer shares stories from his own life and discusses how to “find your team”, and to “dream big”. You Are a Champion was published back in May and was co-written with Carl Anka. After it’s release it topped the charts for four weeks before being knocked off by David Walliams’ new book Megamonster.
In the wake of last weekend’s defeat however – and the support that has surrounded Rashford after his missed penalty and the racist abuse that followed – You Are A Champion has shot to the top of Amazon’s book chart, putting it ahead of bestsellers by Walliams, Matt Haig and Richard Osman.
Richard Osman tweeted out his congratulations…
A number of UK bookshops have launched crowdfunding campaigns this week to get as many copies of Rashford’s book as possible into children’s hands. A welsh bookstore called Book-ish has raised more than £8,000 to buy copies for a local secondary school.
“I am overwhelmed by the generosity of people who have donated over £1,000 to get his book to local children,” said Vivian Archer at Newham Bookshop. “One person who bid for a signed copy said he will donate that to a child who could be inspired to go on to great things. Thank you Marcus.”
The books published Pan Macmillian has also pledged to donated 20,000 copies to a number of these campaigns. “It is wonderful to see how our industry has pulled together to take positive action to support Marcus Rashford and his message of hope, and we are delighted to be adding support to the campaigns,” said Macmillan Children’s Books’ Belinda Ioni Rasmussen. “Marcus is an inspirational young man and his book speaks directly to children and young people, reinforcing the message that you can be whatever and whoever you want to be, regardless of your background.”
Shortly after publishing his book Rashford worked with Macmillan to launch the Marcus Rashford Book Club, an organisation that aims to encourage reading and improve literacy in children between the ages of 8 and 12.
Líra Könyv fined £600 for selling a book with ‘a family that is different than a normal family’
A bookshop chain in Hungary has been fined for selling a children’s picture book that depicts the day to day life of a child with same-sex parents, a number of the countries officials have also publicly condemned the book.
The book is a Hungarian translation of two titles by the US author Lawrence Schimel. In it we are shown a young boys morning routine with his two mothers and the night time escapades of a girl with two fathers who doesn’t want to go to bed.
According to Reuters the fine of 250,000 forints (£600) was imposed on the bookshop chain, Líra Könyv, by Pest county, the local authority for the area surrounding Budapest. According to the county commissioner, Richard Tarnai, the bookshop chain had violated the rules on unfair commercial practices by failing to disclose that the book contained what he called “content which deviates from the norm”.
“The book was there among other fairy-tale books and thus committed a violation,” Tarnai said. “There is no way of knowing that this book is about a family that is different than a normal family.”
The books author took to Twitter to accuse the Hungarian government of “trying to normalise hate and prejudice with these concerted attacks against books like mine … which represent for kids the plural and diverse world they live in.” He also spoke to the Guardian to say that the idea behind his books was to “celebrate queer families, to put more queer joy into the world, so that the only books available to children weren’t about conflicts”.
“In these stories, the fact that the parents are two mums or two dads is incidental to the story, as it is to the daily lives of children in rainbow families. These families don’t only experience homophobia, they also have fun,” he said.
Líra Könyv said in a Facebook post that it will now be putting up signs in its stores to warn shoppers that it sold “books with different content than traditional ones”.
“Rainbow families are completely normal, ordinary families,” the book’s Hungarian distributor, Foundation for Rainbow Families, said in its own statement. “These families haven’t had their own story book so far. That’s why we thought it was important to publish a fairytale book about them – and first of all for them.”
Despite what happened in Hungary Schimel has said that he is “more determined to keep trying to create books like these – books that respect the intelligence of children and offer the vast, complex world to them, in fun and accessible ways”.
These books will be published in the UK this autumn in both English and Welsh.
Remark shocked Chief of Staff John Kelly according to author MIchael Bender
During a visit to Europe to mark 100 years since the end of the first world war it is reported that Donald Trump turned to his then chief of staff, John Kelly and uttered the inexplicable words; “Well, Hitler did a lot of good things.”
This remark is said to have stunned Kelly, a retired US Marine Corps General, and is being reported in a new book by Michael Bender of the Wall Street Journal.
The book, “Frankly, We Did Win This Election” is being heavily advertised ahead of its publication next week.
According to Bender the then president Trump made the remark during a quick history lesson during which Kelly had to “[remind] the president which countries were on which side during the conflict” and had to “connect the dots from the first world war to the second world war and all of Hitler’s atrocities”.
Bender is one of a number of authors who has been able to interview Trump since he lost his second election to Joe Biden.
In a statement issued in response to this allegation a Trump spokesperson said: “This is totally false. President Trump never said this. It is made-up fake news, probably by a general who was incompetent and was fired.” This sounds a little familiar if truth be told.
Bender however claims that unnamed sources have reported that Kelly; “told the president that he was wrong, but Trump was undeterred”, apparently the president continued to emphasize the German economic recovery that occured under Hitler during the 1930s.
“Kelly pushed back again,” Bender writes, “and argued that the German people would have been better off poor than subjected to the Nazi genocide.”
Bender adds that Kelly had to tell Trump that even if that economic claim was true; “you cannot ever say anything supportive of Adolf Hitler. You just can’t.” I feel this is just common knowledge to most people.
This international trip saw Trump run into more trouble than normal. He controversially cancelled a trip to an American cemetery and is reported to have called US soldier who died in the war “suckers” and “losers”.
Kelly, who lost his own son in Afghanistan in 2010, left the White House team in 2019 and has spoken critically of the former president ever since, even calling him; “the most flawed person I have ever met in my life”.
Bender reports that Kelly tried his best to educate Trump and overcome his “stunning disregard for history”.
“Senior officials described his understanding of slavery, Jim Crow, or the Black experience in general post-civil war as vague to non-existent,” he writes. “But Trump’s indifference to Black history was similar to his disregard for the history of any race, religion or creed.”
During Trump’s presidency concern over the countries far right movement grew drastically. This concern continues as even in defeat Trump maintains a tight grip over the Republican party. He continues to make positive remarks about far-right and white-supremacist groups.
The third book in the Dexter series misses the mark
I have already reviewed the first and second books in the Dexter series so check them out first.
Miami’s part angel part demon sociopath Dexter Morganbattles an evil more powerful than he can imagine in his third outing.
Miami homicide is flummoxed by the ritualistic murders of two young women. Their bodies have been decapitated, burnt, and neatly laid out with their heads being replaced with ceramic bulls’ heads.
Sgt. Deborah Morgan, Dexter’s sister, follows the forensic evidence and arrests professor Jerry Halpern. Yet while the professor languishes in jail the murders continue.
This case clearly calls for the specialised talents of my favourite forensic technician who moonlight in his own time as judge jury and executioner of Miami’s underworld.
Unlike his first two outings however Dexter is on the back foot. This time around the familiar dark spirit that spurs Dexter on in his bloody deeds has left, leaving Dexter all alone.
Dexter’s evil spirit has been driven from his body by other spirits, a scary feeling I’m sure. And of course it couldn’t have come at a worst time for Dexter who’d just begun to bond with his fiancé’s children, Aston and Cody, who seem to have the makings of apprentice serial killers themselves.
This struggle between Dexter and his new demons is a little dull and predictable, certainly in comparison to the first two books.
That beautifully sharp wit of Dexter is still very much present but having to face a future without his dark companion means that the third book is filled with introspection and contemplation, it’s not bad but it’s not great either.
This masterpiece is more relevant today then ever before
When I first read George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four (hence-forth referred to as 1984) I was in school, and it didn’t really hit me as anything brilliant. I found it a little dull and dreary, and the undertones didn’t mean much to me.
Now though Orwell’s dystopian vision of our future really hits home, and it scarily feels a little familiar. We live in a world where Big Brother exists and is always listening and watching, shout out to the NSA, MI6 and the CIA, also let’s not forget to say hi to your Alexa.
Orwell gave us a dark world of never ending wars, where xenophobia is the main weapon of the government, a world where refugees being shot at sea is used for movie inspirations and is cheered in cinemas across the nation. A world where the truth doesn’t truly exist, it is not “something objective, external, existing in its own right” — but instead it’s, “whatever the Party holds to be truth is truth.”
Our books hero though see’s it all a little bit differently than he should. Early on Winston Smith promises to reject the party line and instead promises to defend “the obvious” and “the true”. As he tells himself “Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four,” even though his party will insist that “two and two make five”.
Within this novel Orwell gives us a dark dystopia called Oceania, a place where the government controls everything, even its own reality. Propaganda is ever present within people lives, where ridiculous tabloids and sex-filled movies are made to control them and keep their interests away from politics and history.
Books and news articles are regularly and routinely rewritten so that the past becomes a blurry mess where the truth is hidden and twisted into the parties version of reality.
Unsurprisingly 1984 hits harder in this modern world of fake news and ‘post-truths’, a world where nationalism is on the rise and where ‘alternative facts’ are just as relevant to people than the objective truth.
This is a world not unlike Orwell’s hellish vision of 1984.
Perhaps we should all take after Winston a little more, take a look around ourselves and rebel a bit.
It is scary to see how easily our world could fall under the control of a twisted and cruel overlord, where the truth is not what we see but what we are told. A world where an ever present and omnipotent power can see and control our every waking thought and movement. A world where our very lives are in their hands.
That I think is the most frightening but power notion that Orwell presented to us in 1984. He gave a stark warning for the entirety of the human race, a warning to resist mass control and oppression, and not blindly allow it to take control.
Rating: 10 out of 10.
What do you think of our review? Let us know by voting below…
The Manningtree Witches takes the £10,000 first novel award
The author AK Blakemore has won the Desmond Elliott prize for best debut for her historical novel about the English witch trials in the 17th century. The Manningtree Witches was praised heavily by judges who called it a “stunning achievement”.
The novel follows the character of Rebecca West, a husbandless and fatherless woman who is only just tolerated by the villagers of Manningtree. The story showcases the fallout of events after a pious newcomer called Matthew Hopkins begins to ask villagers about the women on the margins of their society.
This is Blakemore’s first novel, although she does also have two published poetry collections under her belt.
“My dad lives in Manningtree so it was an area I knew quite well. The process of the writing began when I was in a fallow period of writing poetry. I was messing around with prose, just to have something to write, and the story just really sort of jumped out at me,” Blakemore said.
“I didn’t really have the intention of writing and completing a novel, it started as play. But coming at it from poetry, I had a decent sense in writing of aesthetics and a cinematic, graphic way of composing scenes in my mind. And something about having a story from history that already had a beginning, middle and end, was quite liberating in that sense.”
The Manningtree Witches beat other shortlisted novels such as little scratch by Rebecca Watson and The Liar’s Dictionary by Eley Williams. Blakemore will take home the £10,000 prize.
A previous winner of the prize, Lisa McInerney, was one of this year’s judges and said that Blakemore’s tale “takes limited historical detail and, with what seems like effortless grace and imagination, crafts a breathing, complex world full of wrenchingly human characters, and tells us their stories in language that bears endless rereading, so clever and unexpected and pleasurable it is”.
The author herself said that she was “really, really thrilled” to win. “And honoured – the shortlist was just full of amazing books.”
The extract has been exclusively published by New York magazine.
The journalists first book on Trump, Fire and Fury, exploded onto bookshelves in January 2018 and created a new genre of scandalous political books. While his first book did very well however his sequel, Siege, did not meet expectations.
On January 6th this year, while Congress met to confirm Biden’s election win, Trump spoke to his supporters and told them: “We’re going to walk down [to the Capitol to protest] – and I’ll be there with you.”
According to the excerpt Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, was approached by concerned secret service agents but said: “No. There’s no way we are going to the Capitol.”
Wolff writes that when the president was approached by Meadows he seemed unsure of what his chief of staff was talking about.
“You said you were going to march with them to the Capitol,” Meadows reportedly said. “How would we do that? We can’t organize that. We can’t.”
“I didn’t mean it literally,” Trump then replied.
The former president is also reported to have been puzzled when his supports began a riot that led to five people losing their lives.
Wolff also claims that Trump was confused and disappointed by: “who these people were with their low-rent ‘trailer camp’ bearing and their ‘get-ups’, once joking that he should have invested in a chain of tattoo parlors and shaking his head about ‘the great unwashed’.”
Trump and his close family would watch the attack unfold on TV at the White House.
According to Wolff the exchange between the president and his chief of staff shed’s light on how Trump abandoned his most fervent supporters.
As Wolff reports the White House quickly came to the realisation that Mike Pence had “concluded that he was not able to reject votes unilaterally or, in effect, to do anything else, beyond playing his ceremonial role, that the president might want him to do”.
Trump’s aid Jason Miller is then reported as saying, “oh shit” before turning to the president’s lawyer and election fraud cheerleader, Rudy Giuliani.
The writer reports that the former New York mayor was: “drinking heavily and in a constant state of excitation, often almost incoherent in his agitation and mania”.
As the attempted insurrection escalated Trump posted a tweet attacking his vice-president and continued to ignore the numerous aids who were pleading with him to ask his supporters to stand down.
Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter and advisor is reported to have seen the attack as nothing more than an optics issue. Wolff states that it took an hour for Trump to make the: “transition from seeing the mob as people protesting the election – defending him so he would defend them – to seeing them as ‘not our people’”.
Trump the reportedly asked Meadows: “How bad is this? This looks terrible. This is really bad. Who are these people? These aren’t our people, these idiots with these outfits. They look like Democrats.”
He then added: “We didn’t tell people to do something like this. We told people to be peaceful. I even said ‘peaceful’ and ‘patriotic’ in my speech!”
Let’s explore how Herman Melville shows the differences between good and evil in his masterpiece Moby Dick
In Herman Melville’s masterpiece Moby Dick the author is eager to tell us a tale of good and evil. These two opposing forces are represented everywhere throughout his story, the vying battle between the two is the back bone of the entire novel. Good versus evil, love against hate, forgiveness or revenge, they are all explored throughout its many pages. This is one of the reasons for its enduring popularity amongst readers.
Some readers consider the great Moby Dick to be the character best placed to represent the evil force. Yet this whale, no matter how huge and scary is still simply that, a whale. He is an animal with no conscious ability to be rational, he is simply an animal living within his natural habitat.
So for me the obvious representation of evil is Captain Ahab. Ahab’s entire world is seeking out the whale that dismember him many years ago. He is a man consumed by one single goal, a goal to bring about death to a creature that has no understanding of what is happening. Captain Ahab is a man possessed by the idea of killing the great white whale, and he doesn’t care what happens as long as that end goal is achieved.
Yet Ahab is also not a one dimensional man, he is a tortured man. He is certainly not a cardboard figure of evil. “Once the captain throws his pipe overboard, he takes a turn for the worse,” here Melville is showing us that the Captain has become so overwhelmed with his need for revenge on Moby Dick that he no longer enjoys little acts, such as his pipe, as he once did.
Yet we must also remember that Captain Ahab leads his entire crew – baring Ishmael – to their death, for nothing more than petty vengeance. The true evil in this novel is the very human traits of stubbornness and obsession. A sentient and conscious man is willing to throw away everything to wreak his vengeance upon a creature who acted simply out of instinct and not malice.
The presence of good is shown in the novel most clearly in the character of Queequeg, who was once a barbaric cannibal but who now embodies the ideals of ‘Christianly’ behaviour more than any of the other men aboard the Pequod.
While Ishamel and Queequeg’s relationship starts off with a brawl and attempted murder at the Spouter-Inn, it quickly turns into a beautiful friendship.
The reader gets to see the true heart of Queequeg for the first time when the two men fall asleep beside one another. When the two awaken the ‘savages’ arm lies draped across Ishmael in an affection manor, or as Melville describes it, as if Ishamel were “his wife”.
Queequeg also shows incredible modesty when dressing in the morning ing, even attempting to hide himself as he pulls on his boots. This moment shows the two sides of Queequeg, the savage and the civilised man: “if he were a savage he wouldn’t consider boots necessary, but if he were completely civilised he would realise there was no need to be modest when pulling on his boots”.
While this theme of friendship becomes less prominent once the Pequod unfurls its sails Queequeg does still save Ishmael’s life, albeit indirectly. Yet he also saves two other men from drowning while acting as harpooner aboard the vessel.
Queequeg’s presence within the novel slips as it draws towards the great climax as Melville begins to darken the tone and focus upon the aggression and hatred of the captain. However, his greatest action occurs at the novel’s finale.
While suffering from a fever Queequeg believes he is at deaths door and asks the ship’s carpenter to construct him a coffin in the form of a canoe to remind him of home. The coffin is not needed however as Queequeg makes a full recovery, it therefore becomes the ships new life-boat, which in turn is the only thing that allows Ishmael to survive Moby Dick’s attack and the Pequod’s demise.
Melville also shows us how good and evil can manifest itself through the journey of ones life. For instance Queequeg lived a life of bliss on the island of Kokovoko where he was the son of a King, yet he hated the life of idleness and insisted instead on becoming a whaler and exploring the world, the pampered life was not for him. Ishmael similarly wanted to see the rest of the world, not to escape idleness but instead to combat the early stages of a creeping depression. All of this is in stark contrast to Captain Ahab who’s sole reason for the journey was revenge, cruel and selfish revenge. Ahab is swept up in his manic desire to kill Moby Dick and the end result is a grizzly and unnecessary demise for his whole crew.
Overall Melville does well to give us good and evil characters with layers and depth. Captain Ahab has all the characteristics of a tragic hero, he has a great heart but tragic flaws. Yet it is his final actions and manic obsession with revenge that destroys his heart and leaves him simply as a flawed and hate filled villain. Queequeg on the other hand may appear to be a savage but his heart stays pure and he has a truly noble spirit.
Melville shows us that we cannot simply judge a person by their appearance, that titles and riches do not matter, it is only the heart that can be judged to show ones true self.
During the silent but terrifying Cold War William Golding produced his masterpiece, Lord of the Flies. Not only is it a gripping tale about a group of schoolboys forced to survive on a deserted island after a plane crash, it is also a brilliant allegorical tale about the conflicts between civilization and primal savagery.
This simple and easy to understand symbolism has made Lord of the Flies on of the most popular and beloved books in the world. It is a memorable and chilling tale with characters portrayed with nuance and subtlety.
The novel focuses on a series of events that occur after a plane crash leaves a group of young schoolboys stuck on a deserted island at the height of a nuclear armageddon. It is at its heart a story of those boys shocking survival.
At the beginning the boys feel like their dreams have miraculously come true. They find themselves master of their own domain, without an annoying adult to be found. However, it doesn’t take long for them to realise they need a leader, someone to follow. The books main protagonist, a boy named Ralph, is quickly chosen to lead the group, thanks mostly in part to his popularity.
It isn’t long though before dissent begins to ferment. What appeared to be a dream situation at first quickly unravels and sinister moments quickly sprout up throughout the story.
The Lord of the Flies is a thought provoking and action-packed story of surviving against all the odds, but it’s also deeper than that.
William Golding uses his novel to explore three important aspects of human society. Human’s gravitate naturally towards social and political order, we want and need legislation and governments to have order in our society, hence the boys use of the conch and platform.
Secondly human’s are naturally inclined to being violent and savage if given the chance. This leads to a natural need for a military for defence, as shown by the boys who become hunters and then murderers.
Finally Lord of the Flies shows us that human society is naturally tuned to believe in divine interventions and supernatural beings, as shown in the sacrifices and dances the boys use to appease what they call the “beast”.
If you have never had the chance to read Lord of the Flies before now I heartily recommend you rectify that immediately.
$200,000 raised so far to help rebuild Gaza bookstore destroyed by Israeli airstrikes
Money and books have been donated in an effort to help rebuild one of Gaza’s largest bookstores, the two storey Samir Mansour, which was destroyed by Israeli air strikes back in May.
The shop was founded 21 years ago by Palestinian Mansour and since then it has become a beloved part of the local community and housed tens of thousands of books. Sadly it was reduced to rubble on the 18th of May during the latest conflict in the region, a conflict that ultimately killed more than 250 people in Gaza and 13 in Israel.
Rukhsana said that the response from around the world has been brilliant.
“Dropping bombs on Samir Mansour’s bookshop is not the worst tragedy to have hit the people of Gaza – but this particular air strike targeted access to books. It was an attack on the knowledge and literacy of this community. Samir lost almost 100,000 books and served schoolchildren and adults alike,” she said. “I knew hospital and roads would receive funding, but secondary cultural institutions such as libraries are often overlooked but equally critical to the community.”
The aim of the fundraiser though is not just to replace all 100,000 lost books and rebuild the store, it also aims to help Mansour with his new project: the Gaza Cultural Centre, a large library Mansour wants to build where people can read books without having to pay.
“[In Mansour’s shop], people were allowed to stay, have tea and read his books for as long as they wanted free of charge without an obligation to purchase … he has decided to use all gently used and some new books to create a true library,” she said.
In a written statement released to the press Mansour said his “heart was burning” when he learnt that missiles had destroyed his beloved bookstore.
“The Israeli airstrikes bombed half of the building and my bookshop was in the other half. I wished they would stop … My feet took me a few steps forward, towards the bookshop. The last missile came and destroyed the building,” he said.
“It was six in the morning. I didn’t know what to do. I started searching among the rubble for anything related to my library. But everything was under the rubble.”
He searched the rubble for hours trying to find anything that he could salvage before returning home. “I sat thinking about why my shop was bombed,” he said. “I did not publish, write, or attack any country or person in my life. I did not spread hatred but spread culture, science and love. I did not find answers to my questions.” But he promised himself that he would “rebuild all over again, no matter what it took from me”.
The UK-based online children’s bookseller Books2Door has donated 1,000 books to the campaign with the company founder Abdul Thada describing the situation as heart-breaking.
“Without any hesitation I knew we could help,” he said. “We were kindly informed by the fundraisers that Samir had a diverse, eclectic collection, so we hope we have done him proud.”
Rukhsana and Stafford Smith have said that all donations will help the bookshop “rise as a phoenix from the ashes”.
“With this kind of support now all we need is some humanitarian cooperation from the Israeli and Gaza authorities,” they said.