Her First Palestinian and Other Stories by Saeed Teebi

Saeed Teebi’s Her First Palestinian and Other Stories is an eclectic collection of short fiction that centres around the experiences of Palestinian immigrants to Canada. Each story follows a disarming cast of characters as they explore boundaries, be they internal or external, literal or figurative. 

Teebi’s stories navigate and subvert the narrative of the diasporic experience. They question what it costs to stay true to yourself while maintaining a moral high ground, and whether or not those costs are in and of themselves problematic. This plays out in a young man testing the reach of “The King” by making a subtle, yet undeniable jab at the authority of an oil-rich dictator on his blog (and by extension, testing the authority within his own family).  In “The Body,” a lawyer must smuggle a body out of the country in order to earn a permanent position at his firm.   In “Woodland,” a woman leaves her husband and family, but can’t shake the urge to keep escaping even when she arrives in Canada. 

My favourite story, “Enjoy Your Life, Capo”, follows a father and inventor whose child suffers from cystic fibrosis.  He creates software that can monitor the unique breathing signature of anyone in a room. The program was designed to detect irregularities and problems, alerting care staff to the needs of a patient. However, when the software doesn’t sell to the intended market, and when years without a steady pay-cheque have taken a toll, he feels forced to make an impossible decision.

Each story in Teebi’s collection crackles with wit, intensity and elegance. His writing is also peppered with relentless jabs, twists, and turns. As Teebi’s luminous and complicated characters struggle with the limitations of their moral, cultural, social, and religious selves, the reader is invited to do the same. These provocative stories compel one to judge the characters—and often, to judge them harshly—but not without also calling into question one’s own values and beliefs. A probing and absolutely unforgettable book. 

SAEED TEEBI is a writer and lawyer based in Toronto. His story “Her First Palestinian” was shortlisted for the 2021 CBC Short Story Prize. He was born to Palestinian parents in Kuwait and, after spending time in Connecticut and California, has lived in Canada since 1993.

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ House of Anansi (Aug. 2 2022)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 256 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1487010877
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1487010874

 -- Website

Hollay Ghadery is a writer living in small-town Ontario. Her fiction, non-fiction and poetry have been published in various literary journals, including The Malahat Review, Room, Grain and The Fiddlehead. In 2004, she graduated from Queen's University with her BAH in English Literature, and in 2007, she graduated from the University of Guelph with her Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. She is the recipient of the Constance Rooke Scholarship in Creative Writing, as well as Ontario Arts Council grants for her poetry and non-fiction. Hollay is the force behind River Street Writing—a collective of freelance writers who create exceptional content and provide creative consultancy services for personal and professional projects. Learn more about them at www.riverstreetwriting.com. Her first book is FUSE.