The Falafel King Is Dead by Sara Shilo- Book Review

So this is a different book.  It actually has very little to do with falafel (which may or may not disappoint you)…But Mas’ud Daddon who owned the falafel shop did die six years ago.

falafelThe story follows his widow and children and explores their unique way of coping with his death.  They are a family of Morrocan jews who have emigrated to Israel and live in a border town near Lebanon.

The family’s grief is set within the context of the daily threat of misile attacks from Lebanon as well as negotiating their position as Morrocan immigrants.   I thought that the attitudes of the characters could be seen as racist, as Arabs are seen to be terrorists.

‘You’ve got to say it in Arabic.  I can’t think like a terrorist in Hebrew.’

But I thought that was probably fairly representative of how people growing up in that environment would feel.  The Arab characters are actually calm and compassionate people but stereotypes about them persist.  I don’t know what the politics are of the author but I chose to see the book as one side to the story.  And it’s adds nuance to the usual Israel/Palestine, Jew/Muslim saga as it explores the issues that Jewish immigrants to Israel faced.

The book was originally written in Hebrew and the language is quite unique with lots of metaphors!  I don’t if that’s the usual style of story telling in Israel or if it’s something that happened in translation.

But when they see you’re washed up, their hearts turn heavy and black.  So they pour mercy, like a bucket of filthy mopping water, on to your head.  Then their hearts are clean again, shiny with goodness.

At first I found it a little irritaing but once I had got used to is I enjoyed the unusual writing style.

I enjoyed this book a lot as it was different and unique and not a world I know a lot about.