Emily's Reviews > The Secret Life of Saeed: The Pessoptimist

The Secret Life of Saeed by Emile Habiby
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's review
Jan 22, 11

bookshelves: favorites, nook, science-fiction-fantasy-horror
Read from January 18 to 22, 2011

I highly recommend this book! I found it mentioned in the book I recently read about the Nakba (the 1948 expulsion of the Palestinians). It did not disappoint! Interestingly, I had just finished Slaughterhouse Five when I picked this one up and there are some striking similarities in the tone of the two books. Both authors highlight the absurdity of their situations in a concise, matter-of-fact attitude. And both main characters are visited by aliens.

Saeed, eventually leaving the world with the aliens he meets throughout his life, writes a series of letters describing his experiences as a young man in 1948, and as a Palestinian in the newly formed state of Israel. This book really conveys the everyday humiliations and absurdities of life in the new state. He befriends the Israelis and works as part of the Palestinian worker's movement. Try as he might to be loyal to the state, to be quiet and not offend anyone, he is constantly in trouble, losing his son to the revolutionary movement, and ending up in jail. Woven through his narrative are the stories of many villages and people, the uprooting and sorrow of their situation.

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