Books·Canadian

Her First Palestinian by Saeed Teebi

A collection of stories about Palestinian immigrants adapting to Canada.

A collection of stories about Palestinian immigrants adapting to Canada

Saeed Teebi's intense, engrossing stories plunge into the lives of characters grappling with their experiences as Palestinian immigrants to Canada. A doctor teaches his girlfriend about his country, only for her to fall into a consuming obsession with the Middle East conflict. A math professor risks his family's destruction by slandering the king of a despotic, oil-rich country. A university student invents an imaginary girlfriend to fit in with his callous, womanizing roommates. A lawyer takes on the impossible mission of becoming a body smuggler. A lonely widower travels to Russia in search of a movie starlet he met in his youth in historical Jaffa. A refugee who escaped violent circumstances rebels against the kindness of his sponsor.

These taut and compelling stories engage the immigrant experience and reflect the Palestinian diaspora with grace and insight. (From House of Anansi)

 The titular story in Her First Palestinian was shortlisted for the 2021 CBC Short Story Prize.

Her First Palestinian is a finalist for the 2022 Atwood Gibson Writers's Trust Fiction Prize. The winner will be announced on Nov. 2, 2022.

Atwood Gibson Prize jury citation:  "Sometimes a writer comes along whose stories are not only complex and full and exquisitely written, but whose vision and political voice feels necessary. In Her First Palestinian, Saeed Teebi coaxes the reader in a certain direction, and then flips the narrative so that now we are complicit, and we see our own guilt in the great divide that exists between the privileged and the stranger. Teebi does this with subtle humour and a wry tone. He does not preach, yet his writing expresses a certain fervour that is essential. He is a vital voice."

Sometimes a writer comes along whose stories are not only complex and full and exquisitely written, but whose vision and political voice feels necessary.- 2022 Atwood Gibson Writers' Trust Fiction Prize jury

Saeed Teebi is a writer and lawyer based in Toronto. He was born to Palestinian parents in Kuwait, and, after some time in the US, has lived in Canada since 1993. His writing frequently engages the immigrant experience and his Palestinian background. 

Why Saeed Teebi wrote Her First Palestinian

"I always knew I wanted to write something that had to do with my Palestinian identity and featured Palestinian characters. On the Canadian literary landscape, there's not a lot of that. It was important for me to feature those kinds of characters. 

I always knew I wanted to write something that had to do with my Palestinian identity and featured Palestinian characters.- Saeed Teebi

"I happen to think that the stories are pretty universally applicable to other peoples in diaspora or other immigrants. But to engage those kinds of characters was important to me."

Read more in his interview with CBC Books.

More interviews with Saeed Teebi

The Toronto lawyer and author talks to Eli Glasner on Here & Now about his short story collection Her First Palestinian.
In his debut story collection, Her First Palestinian, Saeed Teebi shines a light on the varied experiences of Palestinian Canadian characters navigating their way through life in their new home country. He joined Tom Power to tell us more.

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