Track Changes

Grove. Jan. 2020. 224p. ISBN 9780802147899. $26. F
Opening with an air of mystery, this deftly translated new work from Bernstein Prize winner Kashua (Second Person Singular) is narrated by an Arab-Israeli man living in Urbana-Champaign, IL, who suddenly leaves his wife and three children and travels to Jerusalem to be with his dying father, who has been stricken by a heart attack. As the work unfolds, we learn that the narrator, currently a journalist, ghostwrote memoirs before he came to America; now he’s attempting to capture the memoir of his own father. Only about a third of the way into the novel do we learn that the narrator is named Saeed, and soon we begin to discover the secrets surrounding his life; his marriage to his wife, Palestine; and their estrangement from his family. Well-developed plotlines help readers easily unravel the complex puzzle of why Saeed and Palestine left home and why he has been prohibited from returning until now.
VERDICT Though gently told, this story has great depth and is broadly appealing, allowing readers to consider how the smallest actions, linked to the power of the written word, can adversely affect the future. [See Prepub Alert, 8/5/19.]
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