Thursday, 3 April 2008

Reading, Writing (but, thank God, no Arithmetic!)

The Arab Israeli (I hope I got it right) author and columnist, Sayed Kashua was shortlisted this morning for the ultra-prestigious IMPAC Book Prize - more on the shortlist here and here.

Kashua writes a weekly column for ISraeli newspaper Ha'aretz, which is in turn caustic, sarcastic, satirical and often very self-deprecating. I discovered it a year or so before I moved here, and it quickly became required reading. I can honestly say that I learnt more about the country from it than from any other single source.

His books are very good, too - Let It Be Morning - the one nominated for the prize - is a surreal Kafkaesque narrative about an Arab Israeli journalist falling between the two societies - Jewish and Arab - and not fitting into either. His first book, Dancing Arabs incorporates a father whose fervent hope is that his son will become the first Arab to build an Atom Bomb. I recommend both - so long as you possess a sense of humour and an open mind...

Also on the shortlist is Yasmina Khadra's The Attack. Written by an Algerian military officer writing under a female pseudonym to evade censorship, it's about a professionally successful and socially connected Israeli Arab whose life is turned upside down when he discovers that his wife participated in a suicide bombing in Tel Aviv. A gripping read, I was even more impressed when I found out that the author had never actually visited Israel, but was able to write about Tel Aviv and the country very convincingly.

Congratulations and good luck to them both.

1 comment:

MMM said...

Both books sound interesting.