16 September 2010 2 Comments

Writers, no email until lunch

Raymond Chandler wrote that a writer shouldn’t read letters until lunchtime. The energy that ought to go into his novel would be diverted to correspondence. If email had been invented 50 years earlier, we might never have had “The Big Sleep.” Email has an itching urgency that letters don’t have. And a letter leads only […]

27 May 2010 4 Comments

How to create empathy as a writer

Malcolm Muggeridge (an old English literateur) once said that George Orwell “was no good as a novelist, because he didn’t have the interest in character.” Well, I didn’t need to tell you who George Orwell was, so you may doubt the judgment of the largely forgotten Muggeridge. But I think he was very close to […]

13 May 2010 0 Comments

‘Exotic’ crime fiction makes unpalatable places bearable

“Exotic” crime fiction has taken off in the last decade. People want to read about detectives in far-off places, even if they don’t want to wade through learned histories of those distant lands. Many of the biggest selling novels of the last decade have been “exotic crime.” You’ll find a detective novel set almost everywhere […]

25 March 2010 0 Comments

Back to Israel: Recall what’s foreign

When you live in a foreign place, it can become home. You forget how foreign it is. Then you go to another foreign country, only to discover that it doesn’t seem so foreign. And you realize that the place you live actually IS extremely foreign. That’s what happened to me during the last week, when […]

3 March 2010 0 Comments

Coffee cultures of Israelis, Palestinians…and Hawaiians

I have a lot of good reasons for staying in the Middle East as long as I have. While the main thing keeping me here 14 years and counting may truly be inertia, I also enjoy being an outsider, researching my Palestinian crime novels on site, visiting the Palestinian towns whose atmosphere of violence, decay […]

24 February 2010 0 Comments

Inventing the Palestinian detective

The dead man’s mother raged and cried as she told me how she’d discovered her son’s body, in the cabbage patch outside her home. She’d gone down on her knees, she said, touched his blood and wiped her fingers on her face and called out that God is most great. As the winter wind came […]

18 February 2010 0 Comments

Espionage is a dirty business

You’d think there was something wrong with spying. People pay good money to watch Daniel Craig dispose of villains in the bloodiest fashion. They nod in approval when M pushes 007’s perfect false passport across the desk. Yet everyone’s peeved about what in all likelihood is a Mossad hit against a Hamas operative in his […]

12 February 2010 0 Comments

Why’s a Palestinian sleuth in Brooklyn?

I’ve been called the Dashiell Hammett of Palestine, the John Le Carre of the Middle East, the James Ellroy of…Palestine, the Graham Greene of Jerusalem, and the Georges Simenon of the Palestinian refugee camps. Depends which review you happen to have read. I’ve published three previous novels about Omar Yussef, my Palestinian schoolteacher/sleuth. Omar has […]