The Secret Life of Saeed the Pessoptimist

Emile Habiby

WINNER OF THE ISRAEL PRIZE FOR LITERATURE


‘Shows Palestinians in all their frailty, rather than as idealised political stereotypes.
The Guardian

‘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.
The Independent

Combining fact and fantasy, tragedy and comedy, Habiby’s story of a Palestinian who became a citizen of Israel is a contemporary classic – and is widely considered to be the work that founded the Palestinian-Israeli novel as a genre.

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, perhaps, happiness.

The author’s own anger and sorrow at Palestine’s tragedy and his first hand knowledge of the absurdities of Israeli politics are transmuted into a 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.

Additional information

Format

Category

Published Date

ISBN

9781906697266

Pages

169

£10.99