WINNER OF THE ISRAEL PRIZE FOR LITERATURE
‘Shows Palestinians in all their frailty, rather than as idealised political stereotypes.’
‘Highly accomplished … uses a fine mix of Sterne’s ironic and reflexive narrative in Tristram Shanty and the humorous Arabic anecdotal narrative in telling the story of the Palestinians.’
Combining fact and fantasy, tragedy and comedy, Habiby’s story of a Palestinian who became a citizen of Israel is a contemporary classic.
Saeed the comic hero, the luckless fool, whose tale of aggression and resistance, terror and heroism, reason and loyalty typifies the hardships and struggles of Arabs in Israel. An informer for the Zionist state, his stupidity, candour and cowardice make him more of a victim than a villain; but in a series of tragi-comic episodes he is gradually transformed from a disaster-prone, gullible collaborator into a Palestinian – no hero still, but a simple man intent on survival and happiness.
The author brings his own anger and sorrow at Palestine’s tragedy and his first-hand knowledge of the absurdities of Israeli politics to a delightfully satirical and unconventional novel.
EMILE HABIBY was one of Israel’s best-known Arab writers, publishing several highly acclaimed novels and plays. In 1990 he received the Al-Quds Prize from the PLO and went on to win the the Israel Prize for Literature two years later. He died in 1996.