Kanafani, Ghassan.Men in the Sun.Lynne Rienner Publishers; Boulder, CO, 1999.
Ghassan Kanafani's 1962 work Men in the Sun features three Palestinian refugees of different generations en route to what they believe will amount to relative freedom and prosperity in Kuwait.Many Palestinians have sought lives beyond the refugee camps, some attaining prominence as advocates in Europe and the Americas, but Kanafani's protagonists lack such lofty ambitions.The aging Abu Qais, frustrated Assad and young Marwan are Everyman characters, seeking only jobs, food and perhaps better lives for their children.A deeply textured, moving literary work emerges as the men smuggle themselves across borders towards a common fate.
Though Kanafani's story is one of political disenfranchisement and suffering imposed by political powers, he avoids alienating readers through ideological rhetoric.The context to Men in the Sun is a widely understood (or at least fairly easily referenced) one, and educated readers would likely find any gratuitous background information contained in the story to be redundant.As the issues surrounding the conflict remain contentious and often divisive, the assumption of a didactic tone would turn off readers not already sympathetic to Kanafani's outspoken pan-Arabism and socialist viewpoint.Kanafani realizes that there are many windows into an individual's experience.Through this personal, rather than political, approach, any reader hurt by betrayal, falsehood, loneliness or despair will find themselves identifying with a story created by and about Palestinians.
Though no ideology frames the story, there is an unmistakable political undercurrent.In his lifetime, Kanafani, criticized Arab divisions and the petty vices that traditionally precluded an united and effective defense of the Palestinians.Men in the Sun presents the various factors within the Arab world that enable Palesti…

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