Bisharat's novel describes the goings-on in a small Arab-Israeli town during an election campaign for head of the local council. Khaled al-Mosli, a modest schoolteacher, succumbs to a relative`s suggestion that he run as a representative of their clan. Led by Ahmed al-Hidak, a local mover and shaker, al-Mosli`s improvised campaign staff go about inventing him a past of ridiculous bravery and leadership that will turn the simple, a-political family man into a charismatic political candidate. They also invent him a suitable election platform. And he is soon swept up into a tornado that entwines the town of Zatunia with the political, social and cultural realities of the Arab citizens of Israel. As the campaign gathers steam and subplots, tensions and conflicts abound in the town—leadership struggles; love stories; political brawls within and between extended families, and with leftwing women`s movements; intergenerational struggles seen as progressivism versus conservatism; Arab town and Jewish city; gender struggles—a demand for sexual equality between men and women, revealing hypocrisy and discrimination; quarrels between al-Mosli and his wife, a murder mystery, and more.
The strength of the book is its loving yet sharp grasp
of the arab society.
A true work of art, critical of local politics in Arab communities. A fascinating satire about Arab society that is not tainted by Orientalism.
A charming first novel... extremely funny, flowing, superrealistic with a dash of satire. It becomes the genuine voice of Arab life in Israel.
Excellent portrayal of the unique village atmosphere. Bisharat gives us a brave and sober view of Israeli-Arab culture. Wonderful humor in his satirical, sarcastic writing.
Partial English translation available (for publishers only).