“Gritty and agile. . . . As a portrait of a young man’s drift into emotional no man’s land, [Dancing Arabs] has the feel of grim truth.” The New York Times Book Review
978-0-8021-4126-2 • $14.95 • Paperback • May 2004
A stunning tragicomic novel by a young Arab Israeli who “rises above the wretchedness of the broken mirrors, and the ills of stereotypes, prejudices and divided identities, and creates a wonderfully complex drama out of simple domestic ingredients” (Yediot Acharonot, Israel)
A story born out of the tensions between Jewish and Arab Israelis, the debut novel by twenty-eight-year-old Arab-Israeli Sayed Kashua has been praised around the world for its honesty, irony, humor, and its uniquely human portrayal of a young man who moves between two societies, becoming a stranger to both.
Kashua’s nameless antihero has big shoes to fill, having grown up with the myth of a grandfather who died fighting the Zionists in 1948, and with a father who was jailed for blowing up a school cafeteria in the name of freedom. When he is granted a scholarship to an elite Jewish boarding school, his family rejoices, dreaming that he will grow up to be the first Arab to build an atom bomb. But to their dismay, he turns out to be a coward devoid of any national pride; his only ambition is to fit in with his Jewish peers who reject him. He changes his clothes, his accent, his eating habits, and becomes an expert at faking identities, sliding between different cultures, different schools, different languages, and eventually a Jewish lover and an Arab wife.
With refreshing candor and self-deprecating wit, Kashua brings us a protagonist whose greatest accomplishment is his ability to disappear. In a land where personal and national identities are synonymous, Dancing Arabs brilliantly maps one man’s struggle to disentangle the two, only to tragically and inevitably forfeit both.
• Dancing Arabs has been published by Berlin Verlag (Germany), Guanda (Italy), Belfond (France), Modan (Israel), Vassallucci (Holland)