The award-winning novelist, columnist, and TV writer discusses his latest novel "Second Person Singular" and other topics of Israeli society and culture
Sayed Kashua is an author, journalist, and TV writer. He pens a weekly satirical column for Ha'aretz newspaper and is the creator of the groundbreaking Israeli sitcom, “Avodah Aravit" (Arab Labor). He has been widely praised for his literary eye and deadpan wit. An Arab who writes in Hebew, Kashua defies classification and lives the very contradictions he captures in his work. With humor and insight, Kashua's writing touches on the foundational tensions in Israeli society and the often difficult identity questions faced by Israeli Arabs and Jews alike.
Second Person Singular is considered internationally to be Kashua's most accomplished and entertaining work yet. It centers on an ambitious lawyer, considered one of the best Arab criminal attorneys in Jerusalem. He has a thriving practice in the Jewish part of town, a large house, speaks perfect Hebrew, and is in love with his wife and two young children. One day at a used bookstore, he picks up a copy of Tolstoy’s The Kreutzer Sonata, and inside finds a love letter, in Arabic, in his wife’s handwriting. Consumed with suspicion and jealousy, the lawyer hunts for the book’s previous owner—a man named Yonatan—pulling at the strings that hold all their lives together. With enormous emotional power, and a keen sense of the absurd, Kashua spins a tale of love and betrayal, honesty and artifice.
Mr. Kashua is the recipient of the Grinzane Cavour Award for first novel 2004 (Italy), The Prime Minister’s Prize 2005 (Israel), the Lessing Prize for Critic 2006 (Germany) and the Bernstein Prize 2011 (Israel) for Second Person Singular. His two previous novels, “Dancing Arabs” (2004) and “Let it be Morning” (2006), were also written in Hebrew and published in translation in the United States.
Sayed Kashua was born inthe Arab town of Tira in central Israel. At the age of fifteen, he was accepted into the Israeli Academy for Arts and Sciences in Jerusalem, one of a very small number of Arab students. He then attended the Hebrew University of Jeruslaem, graduating with degrees in philosophy and sociology. He lives in Jerusalem with his wife and two children.
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