Borrow
Buy

The Secret Life of Saeed the Pessoptimist

by Emile Habiby

This bizarrely comical and touching satire of the bumbling innocent, Saeed Pessoptimist, is a classic of Arab literature. At times the style of writing can be difficult to engage with - maybe due to the translation - but it's worth persevering for this touching and infuriating tragicomic tale of a well-assuming but blundering man caught in the middle of two conflicting nations.

Extract

This question floored me. But he had calmed down and now he came closer to me and patted me on the shoulder in a fatherly manner: 'Now let this be a lesson to you. You should realize that we have the latest equipment with which to monitor your every movement, even including what you whisper in your dreams. With our modern apparatus we know all that happens, both within the state and outside it. Take care you don't ever behave this way again.'
I responded merely by continuing my violent shaking, repeating only, 'I am an ass! I am an ass!'
I kept this up till he left, after he had finally removed his sunglasses. Then I began invoking God's mercy on my father's soul, for he had been the first person to discover what an ass I am.
Translated by Salma K Jayyusi and Trevor LeGassick

Parallels

When I Lived In Modern Times by Linda Grant
Catch 22 by Joseph Heller
Candide by Voltaire
 

Read Extract

Books with similar rating

Borrow

1. Select UK region:

Not in the UK?

Scotland Norther Ireland North East of England North West of England Yorkshire and the Humber Wales West Midlands East Midlands East of England London South West of England South East of England

Sign in

 
Email:
 
Password:

Whichbook Sign Up

Enter your email address to get started:

First name:
Last name:
Password:
Confirm password:

Alerts

Email alerts are only available for registered users.