“Native: Dispatches from an Israeli-Palestinian Life” by Sayed Kashua— A Palestinian Looks at the Contradictions of Israel


Kashua, Sayed. “Native: Dispatches from an Israeli-Palestinian Life”, Grove Press, 2016.

A Palestinian Looks at the Contradictions of Israel

Amos Lassen

Sayed Kashua is an Arab-Israeli who has lived in Jerusalem for most of his life. He began writing with the hope of creating one story that both Palestinians and Israelis could relate to, rather than two that cannot coexist together. His writing is filled with subtle nuance as he writes about Arab and Israeli society in the Middle East. Kashua’s satirical weekly column that is published in “Haaretz” tells the Palestinian story and explores the contradictions of modern Israel and he wonderfully captures everyday family life in all its tenderness and chaos. His wit is very sharp and his stories are filled with apprehension. Kashua has been documenting his own life as well as that of society at large. He writes about his children’s upbringing and encounters with racism, about fatherhood and married life, the Jewish-Arab conflict, his professional ambitions, travels around the world as an author, and—more than anything—his love of books and literature. He looks at the social and cultural aspects of his life by presenting them as someone who has a leg in two cultures.

The selections here were between 2006 and 2014 and they are deeply personal and unrestrained. The use of powerful and precise metaphors on what seems to be innocent subjects tell of the racism that exists in his life and in others and he aspires to reconcile two different perspectives on the same subjects. The meanings of family and fatherhood and gives us unique insights into the complexities of the tragic conflict that he has lived with for a good deal of his life while he shows that it is impossible to liveas an Arab in the Jewish state. I felt that reading his work can make one stop believing that Palestine and Israel can co-exist yet through his humanity and humor is stunning.

“Sayed Kashua is a Palestinian Arab who lived in Jerusalem until July 2014; he now lives in Urbana-Champaign, Illinois. He is the author of three novels: DANCING ARABS (2002), LET IT BE MORNING (2004) and SECOND PERSON SINGULAR (2010). Kashua publishes a weekly column in Haaretz newspaper and is the creator and scriptwriter of the critically acclaimed satiric television sitcom “Arab Labor.” The film, DANCING ARABS, based on that novel and in part, SECOND PERSON SINGULAR, opened the Jerusalem International Film Festival in July 2014.”.

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