Men in the Sun by Ghassan Kanafani - WriteWork
In 1962 his novel, (), reputed to be "one of the most admired and quoted works in modern Arabic fiction," was published to great critical acclaim. considers it "prescient". The story is an allegory of Palestinian calamity in the wake of the nakba in its description of the defeatist despair, passivity, and political corruption infesting the lives of Palestinians in refugee camps. The central character is an embittered ex-soldier, Abul Khaizuran, disfigured and rendered impotent by his wounds, whose cynical pursuit of money often damages his fellow countrymen. Three Palestinians, the elderly Abu Qais, Assad, and the youth Marwan, hide in the empty water tank of a lorry in order to cross the border into Kuwait. They have managed to get through as Basra and drew up to the last checkpoint. Abul Khaizuran, the truck driver, tries to be brisk but is dragged into defending his honor as the Iraqi checkpoint officer teases him by suggesting he had been dallying with prostitutes. The intensity of heat within the water carrier is such that no one could survive more than several minutes, and indeed they expire inside as Khaizuran is drawn into trading anecdotes that play up a non-existent virility—they address him as though he were effeminized, with the garrulous Abu Baqir outside in an office. Their deaths are to be blamed, not on the effect of the stifling effect of the sun's heat, but on their maintaining silence as they suffer. The ending has often been read as a trope for the futility of Palestinian attempts to try an build a new identity far away from their native Palestine, and the figure of Abul Khaizuran a symbol of the impotence of the Palestinian leadership. Amy Zalman has detected a covert embedded in the tale, in which Palestine is figured as the beloved female body, while the male figures are castrated from being productive in their attempts to seek another country. In this reading, a real national identity for Palestinians can only be reconstituted by marrying awareness of gender to aspirations to return. A film based on the story, (), was produced by in 1972.
Questions on Ghassan Kanafani’s “Men in the Sun” | …
() (1970), is the story of a Palestinian couple, Sa'id and his wife Safiyya, who have been living for nearly two decades in the Palestinian town of which was under Jordanian administration, until, it and the rest of the West Bank were conquered in the . The couple must learn to face the fact that the five-month-old child, a son they were forced to leave behind in their home in in 1948, has been raised as an Israeli Jew, an echo of the . The father searches for the real Palestine through the rubble of memory, only to find more rubble. The Israeli occupation means that they have finally an opportunity to go back and visit Haifa in Israel. The journey to his home in the district of Halisa on the al-jalil mountain evokes the past as he once knew it. The dissonance between the remembered Palestinian past and the remade Israeli present of Haifa and its environs creates a continuous diasporic anachronism. The novel deals with two decisive days, one 21 April 1948, the other 30 June 1967; the earlier date relates to the period when the Haganah launched its assault on the city and Palestinians who were not killed in resistance actions fled. Sa'id and his wife were ferried out on British boats to Acre. A Polish Jew and Holocaust survivor, Evrat Kushan, and his wife Miriam find their son Khaldun in their home, and take over the property and raise the toddler as a Jew, with the new name "Dov". When they visit the home, Kushen's wife greets them with the words: "I've been expecting you for the a long time." Kushen's recall of the events of April 1948 confirms Sa'id's own impression, that the fall of the town was coordinated by the British forces and the Haganah. Their other son, Khalid, with them in Ramallah, had joined the fedayeen with his father's blessing. When Dov returns, he is wearing an uniform, and vindictively resentful of the fact they abandoned him. Compelled by the scene to leave the home, the father reflects that only military action can settle the dispute, realizing however that, in such an eventuality, it may well be that Dov/Khaldun will confront his brother Khalid in battle. The novel conveys nonetheless a criticism of Palestinians for the act of abandonment, and betrays a certain admiration for the less than easy, stubborn insistence of Zionists, whose sincerity and determination must be the model for Palestinians in their future struggle. Ariel Bloch indeed argues that Dov functions, when he rails against his father's weakness, as a mouthpiece for Kanafani himself. Sa'id symbolizes irresolute Palestinians who have buried the memory of their flight and betrayal of their homeland. At the same time, the homeland can no longer be based on a nostalgic filiation with the past as a foundation, but rather an affiliation which defies religious and ethnic distinctions. Notwithstanding the indictment of Palestinians, and a tacit empathy with the Israeli enemy's dogged nation-building, the novel's surface rhetoric remains keyed to national liberation through armed struggle. An imagined aftermath to the story has been written by Israeli novelist , a native Arabic-speaking Israeli Jew, in his (Pigeons in Trafalgar Square).
Laurence Davis (Academic and lecturer in Government)Fri 28 – Anni Kanafani (Wife of the author and Director of the Ghassan Kanafani Cultural Foundation)
Men in the Sun - Ghassan Kanafani - Book Drum
In May, when the outbreak of hostilities in the spilled over into Acre, Kanafani and his family were forced into exile, joining the . In a letter to his own son written decades later, he recalled the intense shame he felt on observing, aged 10, the men of his family surrendering their weapons to become refugees. After fleeing some 17km (11miles) north to neighbouring , they settled in , as s. They were relatively poor; the father set up a small lawyer's practice, with the family income being supplemented by the boys' part-time work. There, Kanafani completed his secondary education, receiving a (UNRWA) teaching certificate in 1952. He was first employed as an art teacher for some 1,200 displaced Palestinian children in a refugee camp, where he began to writing short stories in order to help his students contextualize their situation.