Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Arabaesques - Anton Shammas

Anton Shammas is a Palestinian Christian Arab.  He is well known for the novel Arabesques, written in Hebrew and chronically the history of the Shammas family in both Palestine, Israel and Lebanon.

The novel created a splash when it first came out in the 80s.  Here was Shammas, an Arab writer, writing in the language of Israel’s majority.  The novel also reflects the kind of aesthetic of certain 80s novels, with elements of magic realism and a post-modern structure.   

As the title implies, this book is not only about Arabs, but about arabesques: intricate patterning and motifs.  They often loop around each other, join, and depart.

This makes Arabesques a somewhat complex novel to read, yet Shammas, with his great concern for character and shades of emotional meaning, softens the blow.

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