Required Reading

John Freeman reviews Israeli novelist Sayed Kashua’s second novel, Let It Be Morning.

Until he returned to his home village from Tel Aviv, the unnamed narrator of Sayed Kashua’s second novel, “Let It Be Morning,” thought he understood [the predicament of Israeli Arabs]. But it turns out he only did so intellectually. As an Arab journalist working at an Israeli newspaper, he was able to enter the West Bank territories and talk to the grieving widows of “terrorists” who were killed in retribution for suicide violence. He wrote about their plight, as well as that of the victims of suicide bombings, trying to be fair. “I adopted the lingo of the military reporters: terrorists, attacks, terrorism, criminal acts,” he says, to keep his job. Ultimately, he got tired of having his copy scrutinized for Arab sympathies, so he returned home to work as a freelancer. “Somehow it seemed to me that if I lived in a place where everyone was like me,” he thinks, “things would be easier.”

And of course they’re not, which is why we have this novel, and why you really should read it. I will have more to say about it very soon.

Kashua devotes one of his regular columns in Ha’aretz to the war. He joins sixty other Israeli writers and artists in a petition against the war. The MG review of Kashua’s first novel, Dancing Arabs, is still available in the archives.