Haringey Independent

Wartime Love Story

The writing of author Samir El-youssef is driven by a desire to understand how to deal with the Middle East’s troubled politics.

Born a refugee in a Palestinian camp in Lebanon, he lived there until the age of ten, then moved to a village, then the Lebanese city of Sidon.

His first English book, The Illusion of Return, was set in a Lebanese city under Israeli occupation in the early eighties, exploring problems of identity among a group of friends.

His new novel, A Treaty of Love, looks at politics again, this time as the background to a London love story.

He says: “It’s about a Palestinian man and an Israeli woman, who are both in their mid-30s and have been living in London for a long time. They meet at a party and get to know each other. They become lovers and move in together.

"Each one of them is not on good terms with their own community, and they find this an opportunity to discover the other side.”

Their meeting is set against the background of the Oslo Accord — the first direct peace agreement, in the early Nineties, between Israel and Palestinian representatives — and their burgeoning relationship is told alongside developments in the peace process.

But personal and political issues combine to create problems for them both.

Mr El-youssef, 44, who lives in Muswell Hill, came to London in 1990 and became a British citizen in 2000.

He is also a peace campaigner and in 2005 received the Swedish PEN Tucholsky Award for promoting the cause of peace and freedom of speech in the Middle East.

Miriam Craig
© Haringey Independent 2009