In this “slyly subversive, semi-autobiographical” novel “of Arab Israeli life,” a Palestinian man struggles against the strict confines of identity (Publishers Weekly).
In Sayed Kashua’s debut novel, a nameless anti-hero contends with the legacy of a grandfather who died fighting the Zionists in 1948, and a father who was jailed for blowing up a school cafeteria in the name of freedom. When the narrator is granted a scholarship to an elite Jewish boarding school, his family rejoices, dreaming that he will grow up to be the first Arab to build an atom bomb. But to their dismay, he turns out to be a coward devoid of any national pride; his only ambition is to fit in with his Jewish peers who reject him. He changes his clothes, his accent, his eating habits, and becomes an expert at faking identities, sliding between different cultures, schools, and languages, and eventually a Jewish lover and an Arab wife.
With refreshing candor and self-deprecating wit, Dancing Arabs is a “chilling, convincing tale” of one man’s struggle to disentangle his personal and national identities, only to tragically and inevitably forfeit both (Publishers Weekly).
“Rings out on every page with a compelling sense of human truth” —Kirkus Reviews
“Despite its dark prognosis, there is a lightness and dry humor that lifts it with the kind of wings its protagonist once hoped for.” —Booklist