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Dear friends,

Here are the cover design concepts sent in so far. Comments are most appreciated! As are any other designs you may feel inspired to create…

First, an anonymous submission, which closely follows the theme of my original cover but looks more professional:

Next, a design by Ted Ruybal from Blue Tail Books:

Michael sent in these two, based on a woodblock print called Evening at Gaza:

And finally, a gorgeous creation by New York artist Emily Henochowicz:

And here are the second round entries:

Number one:

Number two:

Number three:

Number four:


Macy Gray, scheduled to play in Israel soon, recently had this as her Facebook post:

“I’m booked for 2 shows in TelAviv. I’m getting alot of letters from activists urging/begging me to boycott by NOT performing in protest of Apartheid against the Palestinians. What the Israeli government is doing to the Palestinians is disgusting, but I wana go. I gotta lotta fans there I dont want to cancel on and I dont know how my NOT going changes anything. What do you think? Stay or go?”

She was, predictably, bombarded with literally thousands of suggestions, for and against. It was particularly funny to see how many Israel-supporters told her not to come and insulted her for even suggesting something might be amiss in the happy shiny democracy of Israel.

She’ll probably go, if her Twitter account is any indication. But it’s still a major BDS victory. Two years ago, a star like Macy Gray wouldn’t think twice — didn’t think twice — about going to Israel. Now it’s a question. And pretty soon, a question turns into an answer. A picket line. A defining choice. And before you know it, we’ll have celebrities singing a song like Ain’t Gonna Play Sun City, and then…

Don’t get too comfortable with your profitable occupation, Israel. Its days are very much numbered.

Here’s my reworking of Macy’s song, “I Try,” in honor of this happy occasion.

Oh yeah, and it’s my birthday, too. And my nephew Mason Cooper was just born. And I’m about to finish a very rewarding ghostwriting project. It’s a good day.

Jails, cages, and fears…
When will they go from here?
When will they stop?
This occupation has brought us here
And we should have our freedom, babe.
But we don’t.
I struggle hard but I’m dreaming of peace.
And won’t you please help me bring it?

I protest but on tear gas I choke
Try to go to school but there’s checkpoints.
Though I try to fight it, it’s clear
My world crumbles while they control me.

I may appear to be free
But I’m just a prisoner of their guns.
I may seem all right and sing and march and chant
But my smiles are just a front…
Just a front.
I play it off but I’ve lost my childhood,
And now I might lose my children.

I protest but on tear gas I choke
Try to farm my land but they shoot me.
Though I try to fight it, it’s clear
My world crumbles when you just won’t see.

Here is my confession:
I didn’t learn my lesson
‘Til I saw Palestine
With my own two eyes
Don’t make the same mistake
Don’t support an Apartheid state…
It’s not too late.

I’ve seen the trees and the children cut down.
Now don’t you see what I’m seeing?

I protest but on tear gas I choke
Try to leave but they’ve closed the borders.
Though I try to fight it, it’s clear
My world crumbles ’til Palestine is free.

The picture I painted three years ago as a placeholder cover design for my book (below) is obviously terrible. The table is too big and wobbly-looking, the woman looks like a mud flap girl (I ran out of time before I could paint clothes and shoes on her), and the fonts are all wrong. She’s supposed to be thoughtfully blowing smoke, but I couldn’t figure out how to paint it.

This is where you come in.

I’m inviting anyone and everyone to help me design a new cover for the book, one that is pretty, eye-catching, and conveys the sense of romance, adventure, and irreverence that my book is all about, with a hint of gravitas. There’s plenty of gravitas in the book, of course, but what’s unique about this book is that it’s mixed with humor and beauty — things not usually associated with Palestine.

Above all, I want to avoid Palestine kitsch. No depressing pictures of the Wall, no mothers in black veils wailing, no young men with scarves wrapped around their heads throwing stones, no tanks aiming their guns at kids. We all know that all of this happens. But it’s not fresh, and it’s not something most Westerners can relate to. It certainly doesn’t make most Americans want to pick it up on the way to their airplane for an enjoyable read.

A variation on the theme of a hookah-smoking girl silhouetted against a backdrop of deepening twilight is still what I’m imagining as the cover, and I really like the color scheme. But if you can think of something better, go for it.

The purpose of the book is to reach people who don’t know very much. I suspect that at first, most of the sales will be to people who already know a great deal but enjoy well-written, on-the-ground stories. But ultimately I want it to be a book that anyone will pick up simply because it’s a good read — a universal story of an American girl coming of age in the middle of a conflict whose breathtaking cruelty is juxtaposed with kindness almost beyond belief, dark humor, star-crossed love, inspiration, and some of the best times of my life. The reader will learn a huge amount about Israel and Palestine simply as an unavoidable byproduct.

A good cover is key. If you have a little time and inclination, and any ideas for a great cover, please send them my way! Along with my undying gratitude, the person whose entry is chosen to be the cover of the book (or whose entry the cover is based very closely on) will receive $300, a cover design credit, a big Thank You in the Acknowledgements section, and a free signed copy of the book.

Entries should be submitted to pamolson @ gmail by January 26.

Thanks so much, I look forward to seeing your designs!



My book

Fast Times in Palestine is in bookstores worldwide! Order on Amazon, or check out the book's website.

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Books I Love

A Doctor in Galilee,
by Dr. Hatim Kanaaneh

The Hour of Sunlight, by Sami al Jundi and Jen Marlowe

The Goldstone Report, edited by Adam Horowitz, Lizzy Ratner, and Philip Weiss

Mornings in Jenin, by Susan Abulhawa

The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, by Ilan Pappe

Zabelle, by Nancy Kricorian

Cosmos, by Carl Sagan

Impro, by Keith Johnstone

Improv Wisdom,
by Patricia Ryan Madson

Walden and Civil Disobedience, by Henry David Thoreau

To Kill a Mockingbird,
50th Anniversary Edition,
by Harper Lee