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3.79  ·  Rating Details ·  193 Ratings  ·  19 Reviews
Available again, Arabesques is a classic, complex novel of identity, memory, and history in the Middle East and points beyond—including Iowa and New York City. Anton Shammas, the first Arab to write a novel in Hebrew, has given us a riveting look at a people we hear too little about: Palestinian Christians. Arabesques was chosen as one of the best books of 1988 by the edit ...more
Paperback, 263 pages
Published April 27th 2001 by University of California Press (first published April 1st 1986)
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Jim Fonseca
Jan 03, 2017 Jim Fonseca rated it liked it
An unusual book by an unusual author. When published in 1988, it was reviewed on the front page of The New York Times Book Review and that publication later chose it as one of the seven best works of fiction for that year.

The blurbs tell us that the book is the first publication written in Hebrew by an Arab (Palestinian) author. The author, now a professor at the University of Michigan, was educated at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and later participated in the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.

Jameel Brenneman
Oct 04, 2015 Jameel Brenneman rated it really liked it
Upon reading the first few chapters of Anton Shammas’ Arabesques, it would be easy to assume the novel was simply his memoir, beginning with his growing up in a northern Palestinian village and presumably progressing into the adulthood from which he is narrating. In truth, it is much different than that. After setting a nostalgic tone with recollections of advice from his uncle, childhood pranks, and prepubescent love that lasts less than a day, Shammas inserts a crack of uncertainty that clouds ...more
Dec 26, 2010 Ilya rated it really liked it
This is the first ever Hebrew-language novel by an Arab author. It is a chronicle of an Arab Christian family living in the Galilee, in a village built on the ruins of a Crusader castle, which in turn was built on the ruins of an ancient Jewish village, from the 1930s into the 1980s. A character is angry at the world's indignation at the Sabra and Shatilla massacre, in which Christians murdered Muslims; he says that when Muslims murdered Christians, the world didn't care. A girl can see the futu ...more
Aug 03, 2008 Randa rated it it was amazing
The premise is a riff on My Antonia, by Willa Cather. This book explores identity so well, I've read it and re-read and I always get something new out of it.
Sep 28, 2010 Poupeh rated it really liked it
A book dealing with family, memory, stories, fact and truth, and the writing life...
I am sure i have not understood all the narrative plays at work here... need to go more into it...

On a side note, the book was suggested to me by a professor, in my first semester, first class ever in the US, only after one conversation about literature and writing and one's choices, and now more than two years later that i have finally read the book, i am amazed at how brilliant his suggestion was. I am so luck
Devin Curtis
Oct 25, 2014 Devin Curtis rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Beautifully lyrical, shadowy and lucid this novel touches upon the greatest dichotomies of our time: identity, religion, language, nationality, and reality.
A wonderfully complicated text, Arabesques has the rare gift to entice your mind to constantly spin off in every direction with connections and questions that creates the power of this novel. The prose is so immaculately constructed, and the techniques employed are so deftly used that at the novels most complicated the reader is left with a s
Mar 21, 2011 Lauren rated it really liked it
Shelves: jstreet
Finished Arabesques which was really wonderful though I couldn't decide whether or not to take careful notes, make a chronology and a few family trees...moreFinished Arabesques which was really wonderful though I couldn't decide whether or not to take careful notes, make a chronology and a few family trees or to give myself over to the highly circular and poetic narrative that doubled back and repeated itself with much twinning of characters and plot. I did a little of both Fantastic book and an ...more
Lucy Carr
Apr 16, 2015 Lucy Carr rated it it was amazing
This is a fantastic and complex novel. Definitely modernist in its style, this book takes you on multiple, intersecting journeys (arabesques, if you will) in Israeli Palestine, France, America, and the imagination of the author and its characters.
Arabesques is especially interesting when read in tandem with the original Hebrew text. In short, I highly recommend reading this novel.
Mirka Breen
Jun 29, 2013 Mirka Breen rated it it was amazing
The language is vivid and the flavor of the original (I read it in Hebrew first, and unique brand from the Arab-Israeli author) is like no other book. The translation misses the linguistic flavor, but none of the beauty of village life and the quirky characters and events Shammas so poetically describes.
Jul 07, 2011 Phil rated it really liked it
Fascinating combination of myth, memoir, and politics. Shammas (an Israeli Arab Christian) goes into grand detail and manages to keep all the threads of identity and dopplegangers together. This book does a great job of showing the nuances present in the land once known as Palestine and is worth reading if you are curious about that part of the world.
Aug 19, 2016 Rose rated it liked it
Read this book for an English class. I was a beautifully complicated book - that being said I'm glad I had a teacher helping to guide my reading otherwise I would have missed a lot! It's not a quick read but if you have the time and energy it's an intriguing read.
Manar Makhoul
Oct 02, 2012 Manar Makhoul rated it it was amazing
In the 'Top 10' novels I've ever read!
Feb 08, 2016 Kate rated it it was ok
Confusing, but after finishing, it's alright.
I'd recommend reading every other chapter and then going back to read the unread
Mar 04, 2008 Bobbi rated it it was amazing
An incredibly intricate story told beautifully with expert precision.
Feb 02, 2011 Allie rated it really liked it
A little confusing with the multiple characters, but it's beautifully written and lyrical in its descriptions of locations around the world.
Mar 20, 2012 Ron rated it it was amazing
Read my review at my blog.
Macks Johanesen
Macks Johanesen rated it it was ok
Mar 21, 2015
Ket rated it it was ok
Jan 12, 2015
Christa Bruhn
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Apr 20, 2016
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Dec 23, 2007
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