Published October 2008
Length 160 pages
A Treaty of Love
For the first time in six years, Ibrahim enjoys a breakfast of tomatoes, onions and pita bread, while his girlfriend Ruth takes a parcel to the local post office. As he waits for her return, he reflects on the events of the previous few days and then of the past few years.
He is Palestinian, she Israeli and they live in London, a city they explore and grow to love. They delight in living against the political tide and in confounding people’s assumptions. But, as the situation in the Middle East deteriorates, so it inevitably impinges on their life together and they struggle to maintain their relationship. It is the family secret that Ibrahim finally reveals that threatens to engulf them forever.
About Samir El-Youssef
Samir El-Youssef, a Palestinian, was born in Rashidia, a refugee camp in Lebanon and has lived in London since 1990. His collection of stories, Gaza Blues, co-authored with the Israeli writer Etgar Keret, received wide acclaim and has been translated into several languages. The Illusion of Return is his first novel in English.
His essays and reviews have appeared in various publications including Guardian, Al-Hayat, New Statesman, Nizwa, Jewish Quarterly and The Washington Post, amongst others. Samir El-Youssef is also a peace campaigner and in 2005 won the Tucholsky Award for promoting the cause of peace and freedom of speech in the Middle East.
The Jewish Quarterly: 'Despite the evident political symbolism, it would be a mistake to view this fictional relationship as a mere metaphor for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. El-Youssef ’s detailed anatomy of a doomed union is too compelling, and his characters too vividly drawn, so to reduce the sympathy and horror their predicament evokes. This is his best work yet.'