An innovative and bold novel, I Am Ariel Sharon dives into the mind of the controversial Israeli prime minister during his eight-year coma as he faces the spirits of the women closest to him.
It is 2014, and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, the “King of Israel” and Minister of Defence during the Lebanon War and the Sabra and Shatila massacre, has lain comatose for eight years. As death approaches, he is addressed by the women in his life — his mother, Vera, and his wives, Lily and Gali. Appealing to the humanity in a man often considered a monster, they evoke his family’s flight from Russia to Mandatory Palestine, his mother’s reluctance to have emigrated at all, his paramilitary upbringing and later life as a soldier, and the massacres the so-called “Butcher of Beirut” helped put into action.
Like latter-day Greek Furies, the women confront on their own terms a figure so terrifying to so many. They sing the brutality of his life, lament his maltreatment of the Palestinian people, and demand he face up to his part in the bloodshed of Israel’s wars. Here is an extraordinary and impassioned story of nearly impossible empathy and reckoning, a meeting of antagonists that only the award-winning Palestinian Canadian writer Yara El-Ghadban could imagine.
Palestinian Quebecker YARA EL-GHADBAN is an anthropologist by training but has been writing since she was thirteen. She is the author of three novels, of which I Am Ariel Sharon is the first to be translated into English. She won the Canada Council of the Arts’ Victor Martyn Lynch-Staunton Award in 2017, and in 2019 she was awarded the Blue Metropolis Literary Diversity Prize. She lives and writes in Montreal.
WAYNE GRADY is an award-winning author, translator, and editor. He has won the John Glassco Translation Prize and the Governor General’s Literary Award for Translation and was a finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Award two additional times. His debut novel, Emancipation Day, won the Amazon.ca First Novel Award. He lives near Kingston, Ontario, with his wife, novelist Merilyn Simonds.
PRAISE FOR YARA EL-GHADBAN
Winner, Victor Martyn Lynch-Staunton Award
PRAISE FOR YARA EL-GHADBAN AND I AM ARIEL SHARON
“Yara El-Ghadban, like any good novelist, is on the side of everyone who’s suffering, so all her characters feel real, contradictory, flawed, and alive. Now her crystalline French has been deftly and beautifully rendered into English by Wayne Grady: ‘I’m a grain of salt on the tongue of the earth. I dissolve in the mouths of the mountains of Sinai.’ This is a richly imagined, vitally important book.” — Steven Heighton, Governor General’s Literary Award–winning author of The Waking Comes Late
“By remaining in the liminal space of coma, I Am Ariel Sharon avoids partisan and political blind spots and addresses the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from a perspective that history and analysis all-too-often tend to exclude: the humanity of a man, with all the horror and the light it encompasses. Here resides the great intelligence of Yara El-Ghadban’s book, which, taking up and going beyond Spinoza’s famous formula, reaffirms that literature can at once laugh, cry, hate, and understand.” — Lettres québécoises
“Yara El-Ghadban paints a picture of a country devastated by an ethical shortcoming that affects everyone, Palestinians and Israelis. Through this chorus of female voices and through the character of a nurse who reads to the patient, she calls for wisdom.” — TelQuel
“[Yara El-Ghadban’s] prose forces us to look anew. Readers accustomed to the repetitive stories of textbooks and the media will be transported into the eye of the hurricane and enveloped in the close proximity and conflagration of war … and carried away by a pen that combines history and feeling with extraordinary panache. Don’t wait. Read this book now.” — Le Journal des Alternatives
“One can only bow before the sensibility and striving for objectivity of someone who writes with extraordinary fluidity and who the stage would do well to discover.” — Le Devoir
“Yara El-Ghadban proposes an alternative worldview that is feminine, poetic, and humanist, surpassing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and reminding us of this fundamental truth: no one is human who denies the human in another.” — Lettres québécoises