Emile Habiby: فاء سعيد أبي النحس (The Secret Life of Saeed the Pessoptimist)

saeed

The latest addition to my website is Emile Habiby‘s فاء سعيد أبي النحس (The Secret Life of Saeed the Pessoptimist). The novel tells the story of Saeed,a Palestinian man, who works for the Israelis. He is almost killed during the Nakba in 1948, when Israelis fire at his family but, fortunately for him, a donkey got in the line of fire and was killed instead. The family flee to Lebanon but, as a young man, Saeed returns to Israel, where he works for the Union of Palestine Workers, an Israeli-fronted organisation. Saeed is something of a naive and innocent, a cross between Voltaire’s Candide and Schweik. He is always getting into trouble but, just about, manages to extract himself. He meets and falls in love with Yuaad, loses her, and finds her again but it does not work out. He marries another woman and they have a son but mother and son disappear when the son joins the fedayeen. Above all, this is a very humorous book and satirical one, mocking the Israelis, above all, but not averse to mocking the Palestinians and, of course, Saeed himself.

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