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One Book, One Rodfei Zedek is meant to stimulate conversations, both formal and informal. The vote selecting the book that was our focus for 2017‑18—Second Person Singular by Sayed Kashua—began that conversation. Our first event was a discussion of the novel led by Stephanie Friedman during the "Retreat" in the City on January 14. On March 19 we screened and discussed an episode of the Kashua-penned Israeli sitcom Arab Labor. After the kiddush lunch on April 29, we talked about the novel in the context of some of Kashua's columns and personal essays. The concluding program was a conversation with the author on June 11.
You know,” she said, “it’s not just that you’re the same size as Yonatan. As soon as you came in with Ayub I felt this kind of tightening in my heart, felt at ease with you, as though I’d known you for years and only later did I realize why. You look like him, did you know that? The two of you are practically identical. Don’t you think, Yonatan?” She took her bag, wished me a good shift, and said good-bye to the two of us.
Celebrated for his hit television series Arab Labor (Avoda Aravit) and his weekly column in Ha’aretz as well as his prizewinning novels, Sayed Kashua examines the lives of Arabs in Israel with a satirist’s keen eye for the foibles found in every sector of society. In Second Person Singular, Kashua tells the story of two men: a lawyer who becomes convinced his wife is living a double life, and a social worker and art student who actually is. As the events of the novel draw them closer together, their (and the reader’s) understanding of identity and belonging become more complex and fraught. We would be discussing the English translation by Mitch Ginsburg, although those who can read the work in the original Hebrew may certainly do so.
"Sayed Kashua is a brilliant, funny, humane writer who effortlessly overturns any and all preconceptions about the Middle East. God, I love him."
— Gary Shteyngart
- Native, 14 June 2016 interview by Sarah Aziza in REORIENT, Middle Eastern Arts and Culture Magazine
- The Born Identity, 29 April 2013 interview by Alice Greenberg in The Paris Review
- How Sayed Kashua Became an Outsider in Israel—and in America, 7 June 2016 interview by Laura Moser in Forward
- Tell Me a Story with a Happy Ending, 13 October 2014 article by Sayed Kashua and Etgar Keret in The New Yorker
- Why I Have to Leave Israel, 19 July 2014 article by Sayed Kashua in The Guardian
- Why Sayed Kashua is Leaving Jerusalem and Never Coming Back, 4 July 2014 article by Sayed Kashua in Haaretz
Sayed Kashua Finds Coexistence in Chicago's Hyde Park (As Long as He Behaves), 1 May 2015 article by Sayed Kashua in Ha'aretz
- Is it a problem that Sayed Kashua is the Arab Israelis Love to Love? 18 June 2015 article by Sayed Kashua in Ha'aretz
- The Situation in Israel is Only Getting Worse. So Why Do I Still Miss It?, 11 December 2016 article by Sayed Kashua in Haaretz
Preparing My Kids for the New America, 12 February 2017 article by Sayed Kashua in The New Yorker
- My Wife Went to Israel, and All I Got was a Fit of Tears, 23 January 2017 article by Sayed Kashua in Haaretz
- N.B.: The Ha'aretz columns are premium content, so you either have to sign up to read six free articles or be a subscriber.
- The film Dancing Arabs (based an Sayed Kashua's international best selling novel of the same name and containing several components used in Second Person Singular) is available from the Chicago Public Library or as A Borrowed Identity from Netflix.
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