Academic journal article The Middle East Journal

LANGUAGE AND LITERATURE: Destined to Die: A Novel about Palestinian Youth as Fighters and Suicide Bombers

Academic journal article The Middle East Journal

LANGUAGE AND LITERATURE: Destined to Die: A Novel about Palestinian Youth as Fighters and Suicide Bombers

Article excerpt

LANGUAGE AND LITERATURE Destined to Die: A Novel about Palestinian Youth as Fighters and Suicide Bombers, by Victor Sasson. New York: iUniverse, Inc. 2004. 252 pages. $16.95.

Reviewed by Sabah A. Salih

Long, long before George Bernard Shaw made a name for himself as one of the 20th century's most invigorating playwrights of ideas, he tried his hand at the novel, writing three naturalistic ones before realizing that the genre was ill-suited for his artistic and political temperament. What Shaw learned the hard way was that the novel, being in Virginia Woolf's words the "most pliable of all forms," was at a disadvantage when it came to conflicts still in the process of unfolding. The challenge in Victor Sasson's first novel, Destined to Die, is a similar one: How to write about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict accurately without at the same time forgetting that the novel is essentially a fictional affair? How to create a novel about a contemporary conflict without letting the writing sink into verbal reportage?

Sasson's realism is rich in naturalistic detail. We have no problem figuring out what makes a Palestinian and an Israeli tick. Politics, not surprisingly, is an all-consuming passion for all, but this does not prevent the cultural side from making itself felt as well, even as "the indignities of the Occupation" (p. 20) increase the tensions between the Israelis and Palestinians beyond the breaking point. In the main Palestinian character Nabeel, a Bir Zeit University student, and his kindly and wise father Ali, we see people like ourselves, not nature's freaks, as Major Arik Rosenberg of the Israeli army considers them to be.

The characters' political side is not without depth either. There are those, like Professor Saeed, who see education, not killing of enemy soldiers, as key for solving the conflict. Ali cannot even imagine a solution without the involvement of Western powers.

In sharp contrast, the young, having witnessed the demolition of a Palestinian home by Israeli bulldozers under the watchful eyes of Major Rosenberg, find the armed struggle as their only viable option.

But if this realism, which is no different from the realism one encounters in a documentary or newspaper, is the novel's strength, it is also its liability. The novel fails to go beyond it. This is because grounding a novel too firmly in an ongoing conflict, as is the case here, is a sure way to hamper its imaginative potential and prevent fictionality from having its way. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.