Book Size: 8" x 5.25"

Pages: 192

Format: Paperback

ISBN: 9781623717025

Imprint: Interlink Books

Release date: Spring 2024

Categories: ,

The Secret Life of Saeed

The Pessoptimist


$ 15


About this book

This award-winning novel-in-translation is clever tragicomedy that demonstrates the complex life of a Palestinian living in Israel.

Saeed is the comic hero, the luckless fool, whose tale tells of aggression and resistance, terror and heroism, reason and loyalty that typify the hardships and struggles of Arabs in Israel. An informer for the Zionist state, his stupidity, candor, and cowardice make him more of a victim than a villain; but in a series of tragicomic episodes, he is gradually transformed from a disaster-haunted, gullible collaborator into a Palestinian—no hero still, but a simple man intent on survival and, perhaps, happiness.

The author’s own anger and sorrow at Palestine’s tragedy and his acquaintance with the absurdities of Israeli politics (he was once a member of Israel’s parliament himself) are here transmuted into satire both biting and funny. Translated by Anton Shammas into Hebrew, The Secret Life of Saeed won Israel’s foremost Prize for Literature; a stage version played to great acclaim for a decade.


About the author

Emile Habiby was one of the most celebrated Palestinian writers. He has published several highly acclaimed novels and plays and his work has been translated into German, French, and Hebrew. Habiby died in 1996. 


“In Arabic Habiby had no precursors, and has had no successors- acknowledging his debt to Voltaire and Swift, he has proved inimitable.”
—Middle East Magazine


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