Translated by Yael Lotan
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Read the Sephardi Bulletin review of Yasmine here
“I’m an Arab Jew. I listen to classical music in the morning and Arabic music in the evening.” Surprisingly for someone so young, Nuri Imari (whose family we encountered in The Dove Flyer), is appointed advisor on Arab affairs to the Israeli government. With little guidance he is asked by his boss to “set up an office in East Jerusalem, sniff around to see what’s happening there, meet their effendis, and provide me with your evaluations.”
Everyone is reeling from the aftermath of the Six Day War. The Palestinians cannot comprehend their losses, whilst the Israelis are waking up to a new political reality – and new responsibilities.
Nuri discovers complexities and loyalties he could never have imagined. He tries to steer a humane course but soon finds himself confronting bigotry and hatred on both sides.
And then he meets Yasmine, a Palestinian woman recently returned from Paris…
Eli Amir was born in Baghdad in 1937 and, with most of the Iraqi-Jewish community, left for Israel in 1950. His earlier novel The Dove Flyer was published in English in 2010 and was shortlisted for The Jewish Quarterly/Wingate Prize 2011. The Jewish Chronicle wrote:
“Amir paints a throbbing, colourful picture of Baghdad with its soothsayers, rabbis, sheikhs, prostitutes, revolutionaries, Zionists and princes. But, ultimately like the wings of a dove, the dreams of all the main characters are broken as they go into exile. ‘I write to show the pain, the sorrow, the insult, of losing a homeland,’ says Amir.”
A social activist, as well as a prize-winning author, Eli Amir said in Cairo on the Arabic publication of Yasmine: “How can there be peace without us knowing each other?”