Book Launch: Still Lives

Where: Vic Books Pipitea, Ground Floor Rutherford House, 27 Lambton Quay

Date: Wednesday 23rd of October

Time: 6.00pm (Doors Open 5.30pm)

RSVP:  Your RSVP by October 16 will help us estimate numbers, but please feel free to drop in unannounced, too.


About the book:

Four years, two wars and one most unlikely social enterprise.

Marilyn Garson was an experienced aid professional who created jobs at the edge of war. In 2011, she was invited to move to the Gaza Strip. Friends warned her that nothing worked behind the Gaza blockade. Unable to resist that challenge, Marilyn became the economic director of a large NGO programme, leading an ambitious young Palestinian team.

Gaza's business owners, technology graduates, and job-seekers (facing the highest unemployment on earth) overturned Marilyn's understanding of aid and justice. Then she volunteered to join the United Nations emergency team that would remain inside Gaza through the 2014 war.

Marilyn witnessed first-hand the impact of Israel's urban assault and massive civilian displacement. The UN was prepared to shelter 35,000 displaced Gazans, but 293,000 arrived. Locked in beneath the bombs, they had nowhere safer to go, and nothing but the United Nations flag and international law to protect them.

Neither Marilyn's team nor Gaza itself was the same after fifty days of bombardment. But the team were still determined to launch their social enterprise.

On her last day, Marilyn's final task was to tell her Gazan colleagues that she is a Jew.

About the author:

I grew up in Halifax, Canada, the youngest of four sisters. From the outset, I was wired to notice power and vulnerability. A few weeks before I was due to enter law school, I discovered the backpack and absconded.

I traveled for several years and immigrated to the Hokianga, in the far north of New Zealand.
In 1998, I began to create jobs in communities affected by war. I worked with former child combatants and Cambodians with disabilities (1998 – 2001), imported global handmade goods as the first director of (2001 – 2003), worked with Afghan family businesses and led an enterprise that employed at women at home in Afghanistan and Pakistan (2005 – 2010).

In 2011, I received an unsolicited offer to work and live in the Gaza Strip. Gaza overturned much of what I thought I knew about conflict and aid, about Palestine and justice. As a Jew, Gaza made me dig deep into the content of my own beliefs. I wrote Still Lives – a memoir of Gaza to add adjectives to our narrow public image of the community of Gaza: educated, ambitious, and audaciously human behind a blockade wall.

I live in Wellington and Hokianga, usually with a pen in one hand and a ball of wool in the other.