Posted by: koolwine | September 30, 2011

Israel: Almost Dead

A Palestinian suicide bomber and his Israeli target trade pre- and post-explosion narration.

Country Focus: Israel (Yisra’el in Hebrew)

Almost Dead
By Assaf Gavron
Translated by Assaf Gavron and James Lever
Originally published in Israel as Tanin Pigua by Kinneret-Zmora-Bitan, 2006.
My edition: Harper, 2010.
328 pgs.

Acclaim: on the long list for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize

Genre: Fiction
Time period:
post 9-11

To make a long story short: Fahmi Sabih lives in the Al Amari Refugee Camp, where he half-heartedly constructs bombs and plans attacks for the Palestinian resistance under the direction of his fundamentalist brother, Bilahl.   Eitan “Croc” Enoch survives three of their bombings inside of a week.  The media gets wind of Croc’s remarkable luck and the shell-shocked Jew is interviewed on an episode of the popular television series Noah’s Ark.  Croc’s remarks and his penchant for survival simultaneously turn him into a Israeli hero and Bilahl’s next target.  Israeli  forces capture Bilahl before  he can take out Croc.  Fahmi goes into hiding, but by strange coincidence winds up with a job cleaning Croc’s office building.  Whether or not Fahmi follows through on his brother’s bloodlust is only briefly in question (we find out in the second chapter that Fahmi is in a coma and shortly thereafter that Croc was the intended victim); Gavron’s addictive novel focuses on the why.


I couldn’t shake the feeling that Grandfather Fahmi was somehow guiding my life from heaven.  Bilahl hated it when I said that: he said that only Allah was guiding everything.  But meeting the Croc made me wonder just who it was who was controlling my destiny.  I remembered how Bilahl had said that we needed to kill the Croc because he’d been turned into a symbol for Jews.  He would have said that Allah had placed the Croc in my hands for just that reason.  Our poor father would have said that Allah had introduced us so that I could see he was a human being like myself.

The author:

Assaf Gavron

Assaf Gavron grew up near Jerusalem and currently resides in Tel Aviv.  Gavron was the chief writer of the award-winning video game Peacemaker, in which  players attempt to wage peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis.  Gavron founded the Israeli national  [soccer] team of writers and poets  in 2007.  They compete against other international writers’ teams with the expectation that the games will “encourage friendship and cooperation between Israeli writers and writers from other countries and among the Israeli writers themselves.”


Overall Rating:
(On a scale of 1-5, with 1 book = turned off and  5 books = lit up)


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