Track Changes: Booktalk with Sayed Kashua
Sayed Kashua discusses new his new book, "Track Changes." A Q&A and signing will follow the conversation.
Sayed Kashua, former Mellow Fellow at the Gray Center, is the author of the novels "Dancing Arabs," "Let It Be Morning," which was shortlisted for the international IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, "Second Person Singular," and "Native." He writes a weekly column for Haaretz and is the creator of the prizewinning sitcom Arab Labor. Now living in the United States with his family, he is completing his PhD at Washington University in St. Louis.
"Track Changes" is a stunningly original, poignant, and captivating exploration of exile, love, country, and memory by one of the most important writers at work today. On a Sony tape recorder, in a grad school dorm, a nameless memoirist begins to dictate his memories. He is used to transcribing the memories of others and makes decent money selling embellished autobiographies—vanity publications that children often give to their parents or grandparents as gifts. Now, instead of rewriting the recollections of others, the memoirist tells his own story, often crossing out his copied lines. Having emigrated to America years before, the memoirist, now residing in Illinois, receives word that his estranged father is dying. Leaving his wife and their three children, he returns to Jerusalem and to his hometown of Tira in Palestine to be by his family’s side. But few are happy to see him back. The memoirist crosses out his brother’s visceral reaction to seeing him for the first time in years: “What are you doing here?” my older brother asked: “Why’d you come?”
Sitting by his father’s hospital bed, the memoirist recounts long-buried traumas, the fallout with his family, and the dissolution of his marriage—all of which his strangely linked to a short story he published years ago about a young girl named Palestine. As he plunges deeper into his memory and the history of his land and his love, the lines between truth and lies, fact and fiction become increasingly blurred.
Presented in collaboration with UChicago Comparative Literature, the Joyce Z. and and Jacob Greenberg Center for Jewish Studies, the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at The University of Chicago, and the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations.