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Sayed Kashua

Fiction, 2010

The novel’s protagonist is an ambitious lawyer who is considered to be the best Arab criminal attorney in Jerusalem. He has a thriving practice in West Jerusalem, the Jewish part of the city, and he owns a big house, speaks perfect Hebrew, frequents neighborhood cafés, loves his wife and children, and generally enjoys a good life.  Then one day while browsing in his favorite bookstore he picks up a used copy of The Kreutzer Sonata, a book that his wife, Leila, has casually mentioned. Inside, he finds a note, in Arabic, in his wife’s handwriting: “I waited for you and you didn’t arrive. I hope everything is all right with you. I wanted to thank you for last night, it was wonderful. Call me tomorrow?” The lawyer becomes consumed with suspicion and jealousy. Humiliated and obsessed, he follows his wife around Jerusalem, attempting to decipher the mystery.

Kashua deftly spins a tale of love and betrayal, faith and disloyalty, honesty and artifice. Kashua has won the 2011 Bernstein Prize and the 2012 Prix des Lecteurs du Var for this novel. 


Rights Sold to:

China, Horizon; Czech Republic: Pistorius; France, Editions Olivier; Germany, Berlin Verlag; Holland, Ambo/Anthos; Italy, Neri Pozza; Israel, Keter; Poland: Filo; Slovakia, Slovart; Spain, Galaxia Gutenberg;  Spain (Catalan) Edicions De 1984; Taiwan, Crown Publishers; Turkey, Picus Yaymcilik; UK, Chatto & Windus; USA, Grove Atlantic 


“The appearance of Second Person Singular is a joyous event…[a] fascinating and daring novel. Kashua…offers an intriguing perspective on Israeli society and on the hybrid identity of its Arab citizens.” – Professor Michael Gluzman, Chair, Dep. Of Literature, Tel Aviv University

“Second Person Singular may be the most ambitious of Sayed Kashua’s three novels…With this book, Sayed Kashua has become one of the most important contemporary Hebrew writers.” – Ayman Sikseck, Ha’aretz

“Second Person Singular is a breathtaking story, full of information on the complexity of life in Israel bridging thousands of contradictions.” – Le Monde

“Part comedy of manners, part psychological mystery . . . Issues of nationalism, religion, and passing collide with quickly changing social and sexual mores.” – Kate Tuttle, Boston Globe 

“A good chronicler of his generation and his country…Kashua’s work captures the unique and often painful situation of Israel’s Arab citizens, while also opening a window for the non-Arab reader to better understand this dilemma. The novel takes us inside the lives of the Palestinian professionals who live mostly in East Jerusalem or in villages within the expanded greater Jerusalem borders…and are a complex mix of Israeli citizens, West Bankers, and Jerusalemites who don’t have citizenship status among either the Israelis or the Palestinian Authority.” – Jo-Ann Mort, Tablet

“Two Arab lives cross unexpectedly in this Jerusalem-set thriller: a rich, successful lawyer with suspicions about his wife's fidelity, and a social-worker caring for a comatose young Jew who slowly discovers that they have more in common than he thought. An enthralling story of deception and switched identities.” –  Shaun Whiteside , Judge of the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize 2014

“Second Person Singular triumphs as a tragicomedy composed of two suspenseful, intertwined stories tracing the lives of two unnamed Arab protagonists, illuminating their fraught condition as insiders and outsiders and their painful struggle to create a life of 'meaning.' In Mitch Ginsburg’s lively translation from the Hebrew, Kashua’s razor-sharp wit and irony are on full display... Kashua proves to be an incisive guide to the simmering tensions of class, politics and generation within Arab-Israeli society, and between Arabs and the hostile majority... Much more than in previous works, Kashua examines life as a struggle against the destructive forces within the individual, even while bearing unsparing witness to the corrosive ethnic pressures and xenophobia of Israeli society. And the disquieting denouement in which these troubled men’s lives finally intersect is storytelling of the highest order.” – Ranen Omer- Sherman, The Jewish Daily Forward

“Second Person Singular, Sayed Kashua’s new book, proves once and for all that he is the best Hebrew writer working today.” – Walla!

“Much of what this novel leaves me thinking about is how identity, borders and names can shape and influence opportunity and destiny …..An interesting story and an exceptional insight into a world few really know.” – Claire, Word by Word

“This is one of those books that with each chapter you realize that the book is even better than what you thought it was in the last chapter, in which you thought is was already very good.” – E-mago

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