This is a masterclass in travel writing. It's a collection of encounters with people who live in these lands, expertly curated by the author. You will learn a lot about what life is like here and what people think of the political situation. There is plenty of cycling action, the joys of travelling by bike are recorded immaculately in this book, but it is primarily about the place and the people who live there.
The prologue of this book has one of the best love notes to bicycle travel I have ever read. It's just a couple of paragraphs, but it perfectly captures why travel by bicycle is one of the most beautiful things in life.
Sayarer is a master of detail. I was stunned at the level of detail in the opening chapter- his arrival into Israel, the encounters with the border guards, and then his departure from the airport into Tel Aviv. This care and attention to recording everything that he experiences makes this an exquisite read and it made me feel like I was travelling with the author.
He records his conversations with people in similar detail. Again it felt like I was in the room, or by the roadside, listening to these people talking. It's an interesting mix of people that the encounters- hip-hop artists, cyclists, brewers, Bedouin and more. Then there is the food. Sayarer describes it so well that you can practically taste it. In particular, his love of hummus will have you ditching the supermarket stuff and searching for recipes that will taste as good as it does in this part of the world.
I adored the chapter about the author's first night in Ramallah. It's just a couple of pages, but it so perfectly expresses the joy for life that he witnesses. So often the media portray Palestine as a place of struggle, but by simply recording what he sees Sayarer opens our eyes to the spirit of the place.
As you might expect this journey has plenty of tense situations. Guns. Border crossings. Soldiers. But what I will remember the most about this book is that travel in this region can be complex, but also beautiful.