In Jerusalem, two Arabs are on the hunt for the same identity. The first is a wealthy lawyer with a thriving practice, a large house, a Mercedes and a beautiful family. With a sophisticated image to uphold, he decides one evening to buy a second-hand Tolstoy novel recommended by his wife – but inside it he finds a love letter, in Arabic, undeniably in her handwriting. Consumed with jealous rage, the lawyer vows to take his revenge on the book’s previous owner.

Elsewhere in the city, a young social worker is struggling to make ends meet. In desperation he takes an unenviable job as the night-time carer of a comatose young Jew. Over the long, dark nights that follow, he pieces together the story of his enigmatic patient, and finds that the barriers that ought to separate their lives are more permeable than he could ever have imagined.

As they venture further into deception, dredging up secrets and ghosts both real and imagined, the lawyer and the carer uncover the dangerous complexities of identity – as their lies bring them ever closer together.


  • One uprooted Palestinian – an elite lawyer – finds his world of privilege turned upside down while a marginal drifter seeks to "pass" as Jewish. Strategies of assimilation and impersonation come under scrutiny in a cleverly interwoven, deeply perceptive intrigue
    Boyd Tonkin, Independent

About the author

Sayed Kashua

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