Amazing story from a most unconventional perspective. An entertaining and thought-provoking classic.
Purposefully imitating Voltaires classic Candide, another dark comedy which derives its humour from life's tragedies, Habiby's The Secret of Saeed the Pessoptimist is a classic of Arab literature. The story of Saeed, a Palestinian who becomes a citizen of Israel, is a story of fact and fantasy, tragedy and comedy. At once a comic hero and luckless fool, his life is full of terror, aggression, resistence and heroism. As an informer for the Zionist state, Saeeds stupidity, candour and cowardice make him more the victim than a villain; but in a series of tragicomic episodes, blundering from disaster to disaster, he is slowly transformed from gullible collaborator into a Palestinian intent on survival. The novel, informed by the authors own experience in Israeli politics, is both biting and funny.