Dancing Arabs by Sayed Kashua

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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, schools and languages, and eventually a Jewish lover and an Arab wife. With refreshing candor and self-deprecating wit, Dancing Arabs brilliantly maps one man's struggle to disentangle his personal and national identities, only to tragically and inevitably forfeit both.

About Sayed Kashua

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Sayed Kashua was born in 1975 in the Galilee and studied at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He writes a weekly column for Ha'aretz, Israel's most prestigious newspaper.
Published December 1, 2007 by Grove Press. 244 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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There’s too much shame for him in a boarding school full of Israeli Jews, shame at simple things like not knowing how to use silverware, what music to listen to, not having the right kind of pants, not pronouncing Hebrew correctly, and shame at bigger things, like the scorn, derision, and threat ...

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Publishers Weekly

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Kashua resists stereotype in this slyly subversive, semi-autobiographical account of Arab Israeli life, telling the story of a Palestinian boy who wins a prestigious scholarship to a Jewish high school, but slips into listless malaise as an adult, despising himself, scorning his fellow Arabs and ...

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