"Take no heed of her...She reads a lot of books."
~Jasper Fforde

Monday, February 4, 2013

Men in the Sun (Ghassan Kanafani)

So!  I'm finally getting around to writing book reviews again!  My problem lately has just been that I've had too much to do (and ironically too much to read), meaning that I haven't had the time to actually finish anything.  Luckily, one of my professors assigned this collection (weighing in at a plucky 115 pages).  For the class, we only had to read two of the stories, but I thought it might be interesting to read the rest of the collection, especially since I had pretty much read 60% of it as it was.

So, I don't pretend to know much about Palestinian culture or literature.  All I know is what I have been taught through the media and my Palestinian and Israeli Literature class.  That being said, I had a spot of trouble with some aspects of this text, mostly because I could not fully understand the mentality of the characters, or the cultural significance of their actions or the plot.

Over all, the collection was not too bad.  But, at the same time, it didn't really "wow" me.  And I guess that's a bit harsh.  I mean, not every book has to completely knock my socks off in order to be good.  But, this one didn't really hold my attention.  As my Goodreads rating shows, it was just "okay".  As far as short story collections go, I thought it was nicely varied.  Yes, all the stories were about Palestinians struggling after the War of 1948, but each story was individualized enough to keep the reader from moaning "Gees....not ANOTHER story about the same damn thing!"  And each story was raw, emotional, and stark.  I didn't feel as though Kanafani was attempting to hide anything from the reader.  It is what it is.  Sadly, I was just having trouble connecting.  I wanted to like this book.  I did.  But, I didn't like it.  So, I guess this is one of those situations where we just say "It's not you; it's me.  And we move on with our lives.

If you're interested in Palestinian literature, or the historical events of 1948 in Palestine, you might enjoy this book.  And if nothing else, it's a very quick read, so why not give it a try?

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