Inside USC Annenberg: Friday, October 18, 2013

USC Annenberg Associate Professor Sandy Tolan has already published two books: Me and Hank, A Boy and His Hero 25 Years Later, an exploration of race and sports in America; and The Lemon Tree: An Arab, a Jew, and the Heart of the Middle East, which was a finalist for a National Book Critics Circle award, and which won Booklist's "Top of the List" award in nonfiction, and the Christopher Award for works "affirming the highest values of the human spirit."

Tolan recently had two excerpts from his new book, forthcoming from Bloomsbury press in 2014. The book's working title is Children of the Stones. Parts of the book were just excerpted in Granta and Al Jazeera.

Tolan said: "My book centers around the story of Ramzi Aburedwan, a former child of a West Bank refugee camp who confronted an occupying Israeli army during the first Palestinian intifada, and later got an education, mastered an instrument, dreamed of creating a music school for the children of Palestine, and inspired scores of others to work with him to pursue that dream.  Today Al Kamandjati (Arabic for the Violinist) serves hundreds of Palestinian children. "Ramzi has transformed not only his life, his destiny, but that of many many many other people,"  the renowned Israeli conductor and pianist Daniel Barenboim said. "This is an extraordinary collection of children all over Palestine that have all been inspired and opened to the beauty of life. "Children of the Stones is about what a small group of people can do to create profound change in the lives of children.  Theirs is a story about music, violence, and a dream of liberation.   It's about life amid checkpoints and military occupation, a growing movement of nonviolent resistance, the past and future of collaboration across the Israeli-Palestinian divide, the challenge of confronting religious extremism, the potential of music to help children understand their lives in a new way, and the struggle of one young musician to master a musical instrument.  Above all, this is a story about the transformative power of music in a land of war and occupation."

Granta has an excerpt here and Al Jazeera has an excerpt here. Tolan reads from his book The Lemon Tree (for full reading, go to YouTube and follow the series of videos):