The Secret Life of Saeed the Pessoptimist by Emile Habiby
Finished reading on June 24, 2013
This book is another one about Palestinians in Israel. However, although the topic and main events are the same as in “Mornings in Jenin” or “The Lemon Tree”, then it’s been served differently. It is sad, but also really funny, because of the main character – Saeed, who is one of the family of Pessoptimists, as he describes, already his mother was one and some before I believe as well, their views of life could maybe be shortly described in this sentence: “It is better to die in some ways and not in others”.
Be that as it may.
I think this would be a good introductory reading to someone interested in the Palestine-Israel question, it’s not too long, the writing is clear and concise and funny, it almost seems as if no-one even dies in this book, which is a great surprise… though maybe I just missed it.
It’s got the standard content though, for a novel on this topic – spending time in a prison, in hiding, trying to get to Israel. But there’s one more theme – being an informer for Israel.
The scene I remember the most from this book was one where Saeed is listening to a news-report saying that Palestinians who have surrendered to Israel should hoist a white flag on their house. However he’s missed the fact that it goes for the “occupied” part of Israel and definitely not for Jerusalem, where Saeed is living and thus he has a visitor explaining things to him rather harshly (also because the flag was hoisted on a broomstick..)
It was okay, but I’ve liked some other books on this topic better.