Sayed Kashua, novelist, satirist, and columnist, returns to Notre Dame to meet with students in English and Peace Studies classes and to read from his most recent novel, “Second Person Singular.” The reading in the Hesburgh Center Auditorium is free and open to the public.
Kashua is one of the leading writers in Israel.* He is particularly interesting as an Arab Israeli writer who, writing in Hebrew, paints vivid and satiric portraits of the struggles of the Palestinian citizens of Israel. His three novels — Dancing Arabs, Let It Be Morning, and Second Person Singular — like his popular Israeli sitcom, Arab Labor, hold up a mirror to racism and mutual misunderstanding of Jews and Arabs in Israel. Kashua writes a regular column for Haaretz, Israel’s leading English language newspaper. He is a keen observer of race and class, and in his satiric writing he aims to bridge the gulf between Jew and Arab. Kashua’s own experience, as an Arab raised in Hebrew and in Jewish schools, makes him finely attuned to the question of identity, a major theme in his writing.
About “Second Person Singular”
Winner of the prestigious Bernstein Award, Second Person Singular centers on an ambitious lawyer who is 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, and questions whether it is possible to truly reinvent ourselves. Second Person Singular is a deliciously complex psychological mystery and a searing dissection of the individuals that comprise a divided society.
* Kashua left Israel with his family last summer. This academic year, he has visiting appointments at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and at the University of Chicago.
Sponsored by the Department of English and co-sponsored by the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies.