By: Rowan Somerville
“Rowan Somerville has written an amazing book. Beat is a riveting, intelligent and scrupulously honest journey through the torment of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It runs the gamut of human behaviour, from blood-curdling barbarity to extraordinary generosity; a tour-de-force.” – Lara Marlowe, The Irish Times
In the midst of the Second Intifada, two acts of extreme violence lead to an act of extraordinary humanity. A suicide bomb was detonated outside a nightclub in Tel Aviv, killing twenty-two people, mostly young Israelis. The next day, in an apparently retributive act of violence, an Israeli settler shot Palestinian pharmacist, Mazan Al-Joulani in the neck, rendering him brain-dead. From the ashes of these deadly events, rose an incredible act of generosity, when the family of Al-Joulani agreed to donate his heart to a dying Israeli.
The son of pioneering cardiologists, Rowan Somerville travelled to the Levant to speak with survivors and their families, interviewing the surgeon who performed the transplant, and meeting the family of the suicide bomber Saeed Hotari. In this moving account of human anger and forgiveness, Somerville untangles the roots of violence, faith and tribal conflict, and examines the possibility of redemption. In this close look at humanity at work, Somerville’s writing is at once personal and objective, an outsider’s unbiased view of events steeped in, but overcoming, prejudice. The close observations and fast-paced narrative style have the immediacy of a contemporary thriller.
Expertly weaving together events immediately before and after the violence, and his own experiences speaking with survivors and people concerned, Somerville gives a nuanced reading of the many uses of the human heart.