Men in the Sun is the story of the lost legitimate scream of the Palestinians' voice that was lost long in the refugee camps, and dies inside a tanker driven by a castrated man who was already defeated once before: "Why didn't they knock on the walls of the tank?"
"رجال في الشمس"، هي الصراخ الشرعي المفقود، إنها الصوت الفلسطيني الذي ضاع طويلاً في خيام التشرد، والذي يختنق داخل عربة يقودها خصي هزم مرة أولى وسيقود الجميع إلى الموت. وهي كرواية لا تدعي التعبير عن الواقع الفلسطيني المعاش في علاقاته المتشابكة، إنها إطار رمزي لعلاقات متعددة تتمحور حول الموت الفلسطيني، وحول ضرورة الخروج منه باتجاه اكتشاف الفعل التاريخي أو البحث عن هذا الفعل انطلاقاً من طرح السؤال البديهي: "لماذا لم يدقوا جدران الخزان."
ALWAKEEL NEWS - مؤلفات كنفاني: أخيراً في طبعة جديدة
May 27, 2013
الوكيل - لم يحن الوقت لإصدار طبعة جديدة من المؤلفات الكاملة لغسان كنفاني، نحن فقط متأخرون عن ذلك.
ALQUDS ALARABI - مؤلفات كنفاني: أخيراً في طبعة جديدة
May 25, 2013
HORRIA - مؤلفات كنفاني، وأخيراً طبعة جديدة
May 25, 2013
JADALIYYA - Ghassan Kanafani: The Symbol of the Palestinian Tragedy
August 23, 2012
As I recall, the year was 1966. We ran to the Nasr Cinema hall in Gaza City to attend a literary seminar held during a conference for the Union of Palestinian Writers. A surprise would unfold whose beauty far surpassed the conference which came together to elect an executive committee and then...
An incredibly good small collection of short stories
Kate [Goodreads] December 19, 2013
This is an incredibly good small collection of short stories. The title story, Men in the Sun, is haunting but in a horrifying way. It's the story of four men, three of whom have paid the fourth to smuggle them into Kuwait where they hoped to find work to support their families at home. The smuggler is not a bad person, he seems to want to help them achieve their goal at the same time, he wants to make a bit of money on the side by taking them there. The journey and the end of the journey will stay with me.
The stories are a mix of regret, sadness, and horror but the language is exquisite and the tone gentle. The Land of Sad Oranges is a story of diaspora, of the effect of leaving Palestine on a young child and his family. If You Were a Horse tells the story of a young boy who is raised by a father who is afraid of him because of the father's belief in superstitions. A Hand in the Grave is pure horror in an Arab setting. Umm Saad is about a mother's love for her son who has decided to leave the refugee camp to join the fedayeen. The Falcon, well, that one is complicated, a short story about men who live in a secure camp, the bedouin watchmen and the engineers, perhaps about pride and self-worth. The final story is a letter which threw me off because letters seem real and I don't know if it is or not. Letter from Gaza is about a man who has the opportunity to leave Gaza to go to a better life in California but decides that staying is what he believes is right. The letter is to his friend who did go to California and encourages him to return.
If I had a list of the 5 best Arabic books to recommend you read before you die, this would be on that list. I found if amazing.
Perfect condition, true Arabic Edition
Mary-Catherine Overcash October 20, 2013
This book arrived in perfect condition and is a true Arabic edition. So many sellers advertise Arabic books that aren't actually in Arabic or are dual language, but this book is completely in Arabic. It's just what I wanted! rn(amazon reader review)
Men in the Sun
N. Marsellas [Goodreads] August 03, 2013
In Men in the Sun, Kanafani shows just how desperate the Palestinian refugee situation is. This particular short story stands out from the rest of the short anthology, not only in length but also in its heartbreaking unsentimentality. Readers know the helplessness of the situation almost before they turn the first page, but still they are compelled to read on. Kanafani touches on the ubiquitousness of the situation with his three refugees, each a unique man with different values, goals, and reasons for making the journey. The author paints a beautifully tragic refugee mission that has no chance of success.
Men in the Sun
Bryan [goodreads] April 10, 2013
I first read Men in the Sun when I was in the sixth grade and couldn't comprehend the story without the help of the teacher. I felt I was reading something important but couldn't tell how and why.
Now that I've read it again, things have become clearer. Feelings of disappointment, anger, resistance, and tragedy spring up while reading. It's not merely a story of three men die while their smuggler gets trapped in a silly chat with a border officer. It's an embodiment of the Palestinian situation after the 1948 catastrophe. The refugee problem, lethargy on the part of Palestinians and lack of resistance and awareness among Arabs and their share of complicity, absence of hope and love, bureaucracy, the existence of borders in the Arab world .. a combination of these is found in this novella and can still be found nowadays. Unfortunately.
I often wonder what Ghassan Kanafani's stance would be was he alive. Would he still go for armend resistance? I don't know but what I know is that Ghassan had a great vision and he visualized it in his masterpieces. Ghassan trusted his reader's wits & conscience. He was about to be a spokesman of a collective vision but then his enemies felt the threat and assassinated him & his niece. I think we still should bang the walls of the tank,make noise and let the world hear our voice in every possible way. Ghassan's message got received!
His short stories are no less great! "The Land of Sand Oranges" is about reliving the Nakbah and its immediate aftermath while 'If You Were a Horse' and "A Hand in the Grave" talk about myths, superstitions, and self-made conceptions and the way we interact with them and sometimes let them destroy our lives. "The Falcon" is so beautifully written and is about a Bedouin who's likened to a falcon. "Letter from Gaza" is my favorite- the sense of responsibility and initiative to build our country and live in it for better or worse is presented in a touching way.
All in all, read the book please!
K.L. - amazon review April 04, 2013
Honestly the book is crazy weird but interesting.
Challenges to long-time mis-understood ideas re Palestine
RRL - amazon review June 05, 2012
Excellent writer; stories hold your attention, create a lasting impression,challenge long-time mis-understood ideas about the status of Palestine in the midst of international tensions.
JPJ III - amazon review March 15, 2010
Imagine, if you will, an anthology of stories that would be read in our schools on the subject of dispossession. The stories would express the fate of various peoples who have been uprooted by "political forces," be they ideological, or racial, or most likely both. These are the justification for the stronger removing the land, livelihood, and the very lives themselves of those who have been cast in a weaker position by fate. All of the stories in this slim collection would merit inclusion, but I would select in particular "The Land of Sad Oranges," which is surely only a thinly disguised autobiographical story of Kanafani's own exile, when he was forced to leave his home in northern Palestine, and seek refuge in Sidon, Lebanon, when he was 12 years old, in 1948. And yes, couple this story with "The Diary of Ann Frank." Both are told by the person to whom the dispossession happened, and these could be coupled to stories about the fate of others who left no written record, and thus would have to be recreated by others; these other stories could include the Navajos who were driven out of the Canyon de Chelly in 1864 by Kit Carson, as well as the ethnic tribes (the "Montangards") of the highlands of Vietnam who lost their homes to the lowland Vietnamese. And that is only a sampling; the list is long.
There are a number of excellent reviews already posted, including by one who lead me to this book - RM Peterson. Thus, I don't want to duplicate, but rather augment what they said. The longest story lends its name to the book's title, and concerns the fate of three men, as well as the smuggler himself, in their efforts to reach the "promised land" of Kuwait. Kanafani is a master story-teller; the literary tension remains high throughout. In terms of technique, I found the juxtapositions of two stories, often within the same paragraph, united by a common theme, for example, rats, most powerful. The style reminded me of Sartre's trilogy, "Roads to Freedom," where the same technique was utilized. In the background, stated in a low-key manner is the central dynamic that has propelled these people to their fate, the "nakba," (the catastrophe), when the Palestinians lost their homeland in '48 (though Kanafani avoids specific reference to that term). The loss of a young girl's leg in the bombardment of Jaffa in that year was the propelling force that led to a young boy of 16 riding in an empty water truck in the month of August, in the Arabian Desert. In fighting at the same time, the smuggler was emasculated, and Kanafani brilliantly, and with bitter irony, uses this as a key determinant in the fate of the men he is smuggling.
In addition to the two above, there are five other short stories, none more than 10 pages long. The final one helps explain the super-human determination of some Palestinians not to join their relatives in the Diaspora, but rather to cling all too stubbornly to the scraps of land and life that they have left.
Kanafani was "taken" from us far too young, along with his young niece, who will always be just so much "collateral damage." He was killed by terrorists, who may only be brought to justice "in the next world." The year was 1972, when Ghassan Kanafani was 36 years old. An excellent 5-star read.
A tragic allegory
S. Salaita [Goodreads] July 03, 2009
Men in the Sun is a tragic allegory of Palestinian placelessness and the betrayal of Palestinians by their Arab brethren. It is of solid literary quality and provides sharp political criticism.
Compelling tales of the Palestinian diaspora
R.M.P - amazon review May 25, 2009
Ghassan Kanafani was born in 1936 in Acre, northern Palestine, and his family was among the Palestinian diaspora of 1948. Kanafani became a leading member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, but since his assassination in 1972 (in a car bomb most probably the handiwork of the Mossud) Kanafani's impact as a writer has grown so that by now his literary fiction is a much greater part of his legacy than political theory or activism.
The title novella, MEN IN THE SUN, is one of the most powerful stories I have read in some time. Written in 1962, its subject is three Palestinians trying to get from the dead-end refugee camps to Kuwait, where there is work. The smuggler they ultimately choose is yet another Palestinian, who fought for the Palestinian cause in 1948 and was emasculated (literally), and now drives a lorry with a water tank back and forth between Basra, Iraq, and Kuwait. You can probably intuit the horror that unfolds, but in Kanafani's telling the reader is spellbound. Significantly, blame is not parcelled out (it is more that no one and everyone is to blame). Rather than focus on the causes, in MEN IN THE SUN Kanafani focuses on the effects, as they are absorbed by various and sundry everyday people.
The book also contains six short stories, four of which also deal directly with displaced Palestinians. "The Land of Sad Oranges" and "Umm Saad" are the best and most effective of these. Finally, the story "The Falcon" is worth reading for the impact of its last few lines.
Kanafani is inescapably a Palestinian writer, but he should not be pigeonholed as some sort of novelty act or relegated to being the token Palestinian in some sort of multicultural literary survey. This book, while not great literature, is literature nonetheless, and I believe the reader who approaches it with an open mind will find it both humane and universal in its scope.
A Palestinian writer's anguished vision . . .
R.Scheer - amazon review December 15, 2006
Written and published in the 1950s and 1960s, this slender volume of stories by Ghassan Kananfani speaks of the displacement of Palestinians in ways that are timeless and still fresh today. They speak of loss more than hope, and although the author was an activist and spokesman for the Palestinian Popular Front, he seemed in these writings to simply bring attention to the human cost of political struggle in the Middle East. He himself was killed by a car bomb in Beirut in 1972.
The most compelling of these stories is the novella "Men in the Sun," which tells of the efforts of three men being smuggled into Kuwait from Iraq and the truck driver who has offered to help them across the border. The fierce desert heat represents the terrible odds against their ever being able to escape the consequences of war and loss of homeland. But this is only one theme among many, as Kananfani explores traits of Arab character which seem to intensify inner conflict and erode the ability to act purposefully. The story "If You Were a Horse" concerns itself with superstition, fear, and overwhelming regret that divides father from son and leads to misfortune. The book includes an informative introduction by Hilary Kilpatrick.
Book discribing reality
Truth - amazon review November 05, 2006
This book gives you an idea of the suffering and neglection of a nation, on the watch of the whole civilized world.
bookwyrm - amazon review June 23, 2006
This collection of short stories is a brief, but poignant look into the life of people living in Palestine. At the same time, the stark writing illustrates many universal themes forcing readers to reevaluate life as they know it. The writing is plain and easy to read, but ultimately, deep and impossible to dismiss.
Commentor - amazon review December 09, 2005
The stories were great. Well written, poignant, the most so being the one involving the tank.
The tragedy questions
N.ALHAGEALI - amazon review April 12, 2005
"Men in the sun", a novel by Ghassan Kanafani, is a story about the suffer of the Palestinian people since 1948 (and earlier in the 20th century). "Men in the sun" is neither a story about Yasser Arafat's legacy and his PLO's sense of politics nor a debate on Oslo and Madrid agreements. The novel is a piece of art that visualizes the Palestinian tragedy and extreme reality.
It is the story of three men's quest for a better life. They plan to migrate from the "occupation cage" to a new "promise land" where they meet the "promised demise" in the desert, a home of the many Arabs and Bedouins. In this story, the dream of the three main figures of the story represents the dream of every man who loses the feeling of belonging to a certain place at a certain time. To achieve that dream, it requires struggle with harsh circumstances of life. The result is not always guaranteed. Suffer, resistance, commitment, dreams, hope, fatigue, thirst, and death will form a strange, yet unique, amalgam that describes the Palestinian identity.
The symbolism in this story is just intriguing. In fact, the trends can symbolize the migration of any man to any "self-imposed exile", where "enforced dreams" replace the simple -but lost- passion, love and happiness to form a complex and bitter reality.
The novel ends with a beautiful and so influential paragraph that tries to raise the question of why the 3 men (main figures of the novel) did not try to knock on the walls of their symbolic "prison" (Empty tanker)? Why did not they call for help? "Why? Why? Why?"; one may understand The "Whys" of Kanafani at the close of his masterpiece as follows: why did not some of the oppressed people reject the abject reality? Why did not they fight for their life and freedom? Could it be that they were so hopeless and tired, or were they so afraid from going back to the occupied home-land? Did they prefer death to losing their dream? The questions were asked by Kanafani in the past to project on present exprience, and to reflect the suffer of the "palestinean-age" on the future memory of humanity.
G.P. - amazon review
A literary masterpiece from Palestine July 22, 2003
This book contains a novella as well as several short stories by the prominent Palestinian author Ghassan Kanafani. Kanafani is known in the Arab world as a literary master, and "Men in the Sun" is deemed by many to be his masterpiece. The book was a tremendous pleasure to read and at the same time intensely thought-provoking. Kanafani's original writing style is brought out beautifully in this excellent translation. In these stories, Kanafani experiments with various literary techniques that were revolutionary in the world of literature at their time (1960s). I particularly enjoy the twists of plot at the end of each story, and how the very last sentence forces me to re-think and re-evaluate my entire understanding of the piece. Seeped in the author's struggle for freedom and for a homeland, these stories reflect a deep understanding of human relationships and the human condition. Yet despite (or perhaps because of) this depth, the main characters tend to always be ordinary human beings - usually from the lower classes. Another feature of "Men in the Sun" is the variation of voice and perspective from paragraph to paragraph. For a moment we are in the head of one character, an old man crossing the desert to Kuwait. The next we're taken back in time to 1948, when that man was forced to leave his country by the ravages of war. Then we're transplanted into the shoes of another character, a young man hitching a ride from Jordan to Iraq. All this is done smoothly enough not to interrupt the narrative, but instead, the perspective of the plot wanders as thoughts naturally wander in one's mind. Truly Kanafani was a master of literary techniques. Few have been able to pack so many ideas and characterization and so much change into a short story.
To understand Palestine...
Rania Masri - amazon review December 10, 2001
... read Kanafani.
To understand the ties to the land, and the struggles of dispossession and exile - start with reading Kanafani.
ECF3K - amazon review
Symbolism Within the Sadness November 25, 2001
The importance of homeland is a theme that runs throughout this emotional collection of stories, written in a manner that expresses both the fear and pain that the Palestinian people felt after 1948. In "Men In the Sun and Other Palestinian Stories", Kanafani creates "everyman" characters, who easily move the reader through their struggling losses of land, occupation, family members, and comfort. Underlying this theme within Kanafani's stories is strong allegory and symbolism. These characteristics can be clearly examined in the first story of the collection, "Men In the Sun". Kanafani weaves memory with an intense meta-narrative in "Men In the Sun", through three primary characters that reflect the vulnerability, hardship, and loss of Palestinian refugees. Set in 1958, these characters, a young boy of sixteen, a resistance fighter in his twenties, and an old peasant, all dream of leaving behind their painful past and finding new hope in Kuwait. Their destinies collide when they meet a smuggler who promises a safe journey across the border to a new, happier life. Although his greedy attitude and method of transportation frightens the lot, desperation places the three men in his care. The journey holds a tragic ending for these three "everyman" characters, as their beating fists and hearts are muffled into silence. The author uses time and symbolism in this story to make strong allegorical connections to the concepts of homeland, nature, manhood, and the political meta-narrative. Throughout the plot, specific words and sights cause the men to"flashback", remembering events that took place during the war of 1948. For the smuggler, Abul Khaizuran, it is the traumatic war injury that led him to the operation that rendered him infertile. This injury coincides with the Palestinian loss, and Khaizuran becomes overcome with greed, as he tries to replace his manhood with money. Equally agonizing memories also follow the three men who try to escape to Kuwait. Abu Qais, the older peasant man, is reminded of the groves of trees he once owned in Palestine, as well as of the death of a friend who he admired in the war. The resistance fighter, Assad, has flashback memories of being betrayed by those he trusted because of money, as well as of the life in chains as a resistance fighter, that he left behind. The youngest of the group, Marwan, is constantly remembering his mother and hungry siblings, who were deserted by his father, and who exist as the primary cause of his trip to Kuwait. The story uses these memory flashbacks, as well as altering perspective, to allow the reader a greater understanding of the economic desperation and motivation towards Kuwait, as well as of the jolting contrast between life before and after the war. The other six stories that make up the collection reflect an equally emotional reaction of the Palestinian people to the 1948 war, through similar symbolism and sad irony. "The Land of Sad Oranges" portrays a father, once successful and proud, who loses his orange trees and becomes a refugee. As he moves his family to their new and diminished location, this man breaks down to an extremely low point. This story of loss and anger ends with the image of a shriveled orange, symbolism again for the hopes and dreams of the Palestinian people. In the short story, "Umm Saad", Kanafani confronts the life of a mother in a Palestinian refugee camp. In this ironic tale, the mother's son holds the dream of becoming a guerrilla soldier, to fight for returning what was lost to his family. His mother sadly supports this goal, one of the few things that she can provide him, while knowing the risk that he is taking. The last story in the book is entitled "A Letter From Gaza", which concerns a decision that many of the Palestinian people have faced in the past. When a childhood friend encourages a man to find success and money in the United States, the other responds with the story of an innocent young girl who lost her leg due to the conflict. In this emotional story, it is stressed that this child's sacrifice must not be lost, but be a reminder of all which has been lost. Instead of joining the friend in America, the other writer tells him instead to return to Gaza, to learn from the amputated leg, and to learn "what existence is worth". Kanafani ends the collection of stories on this note, one of sadness, yet also one of hope. "Men In the Sun and Other Palestinian Stories" expresses a clear and successful picture of the emotional distress and suffering of the Palestinian people after 1948. This objective is reached through a combination of flashback memory and allegorical symbolism of loss which underlies the majority of the writings. The author, who was a novelist, journalist, teacher, and Palestinian activist, strongly reflects his own experiences and emotions through these significant stories. During this time of conflict within the region, education and understanding of both sides of the issue is so vital, in terms of the political and social events of the past. Ghassan Kanafani provides an intense and heartfelt combination of both the social and political aspects, in this collection of stories that are as understandable as they are symbolic and unforgettable.
Nobel Prize Level
customer - amazon review July 13, 2000
I believe that kanafani is an undiscoverd treasure of the palestinian literature to the west. An art teacher, and a novelist, who takes over the life of the palestinian people in a poetic way. His writing is very humane and very innocent. He is a winner of many French awards and if the death did not steal him at an early age (in his thirties) in a dramatic way, his talent may have taking him to be a Nobel Prize Winner. He was bombed in his car and died in his thirties. In Men in the Sun, he takes with him to live the dreams of three people who are looking for better life and the truck driver who is their destiny and the one who supposed to be taking them to their dreams. Tragedic endings. This novel was made into a movie. Its a must read book. Enjoy...
The most powerful thing you can ever read
customer - amazon review September 14, 1999
This book tells of the continuous agony of the Palestinians under the vicious circumstances that surrounded them after the Israeli invasion. It tells of love, life, and struggle. It is magnificent, I advise reading this book, and if you ever have a question, don't hesitate to contact me. Kanafani has also written 7 novels, two of which he was assassinated before completion, and a great deal of short stories. He also wrote several plays and philosophical letters. Great Book.
A Brilliant Book By A Brilliant Man
RRafeedie - amazon review April 22, 1998
Ghassan Kanafani showed us in this book that he is without a doubt one of the most important and provocative Palestinian short story authors of this century. Murdered by the Israeli Mossad, Kanafani led a life of dispossession. His beautiful characters and stories attempt to illustrate that life in exile. From a family's tragic flight from Palestine ("The Land of Sad Oranges") to the oppression Palestinians endure in neighboring Arab countries ("Men in the Sun"), Kanafani writes with authority and emotion. This collection of stories will not dissapoint. I recommend it to anyone interested in solid fiction and the plight of the Palestinian people. The fact that Israel saw his intellectual capabilities so threatening as to kill him, should only inspire you to read his touching work.
THE BEST NOVEL I HAVE EVER READ
customer - amazon review November 23, 1997
SIMPLY MAGNIFICANT. YOU ARE BOUND TO FALL IN LOVE WITH THIS INCREDIBLE TALE OF THE FLIGHT OF THREE PALESTINIANS THROUGH THE DESERT IN AUGUST'S HEAT. IF YOU WANT TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT PALESTINE, THE ARAB WORLD, THE DESERT OR ARE SIMPLY LOOKING FOR A BRILLIANT BOOK THEN THIS IS IT.