3 September 2010 5 Comments

The Inquisition, the Jews of Andalus, and Columbus: ‘By Fire By Water’ review

Historical novels vie with crime and romance novels for the titles of most derided and most widely read literature. They’ve had a bad rap ever since the 19th century, when the swashbucklers of Alexandre Dumas looked pretty wooden next to Dickens, and cartoonish in comparison to the depth of Victor Hugo or George Eliot. There […]

22 February 2010 0 Comments

Book of A Lifetime: The King Must Die

The Independent has a regular feature in which it asks authors to write about a book which changed their lives somehow. Last week the London newspaper asked me to write the piece. Here it is: In early 1999, King Hussein fell sick on his return from cancer treatment in the US. I was Middle East […]

24 June 2009 0 Comments

My 5 favorite novels

My second Palestinian crime novel A Grave in Gaza (UK title: The Saladin Murders) is just now published in Holland. The Dutch newspaper de Volkskrant asked me to contribute a list of my five favorite books, or at least those which’ve had the biggest impact on me as a writer. Here’s what I wrote: Let […]

1 March 2009 0 Comments

The Middle East and the Art of Non-catastrophic Thinking

When things look bad in the Middle East, foreign correspondents and diplomats and local politicians tend to forecast every catastrophe up to — and sometimes including — the end of the world. I generally have a more relaxed approach. Why? Because of Mary Renault. I discovered Renault in a used bookstore on a rather ratty […]