The biography and bibliography of Emile Habibi

This article is also available in: Italiano

The biography and bibliography (in Italian) of Emile Habibi, considered one of the most important Palestinian authors of all time, as well as one of the few who always remained in their native land

Biography of Emile Habibi

Emile Habibi on 28 January 1922 in Haifa, then under the British, from an Arab family who was originally Greek Orthodox and had recently converted to Anglican Christianity. As a young man he worked first in an oil refinery and then as a radio announcer, but what characterized him from the very beginning was his political activity; already under British rule he soon became one of the most important figures of the Palestinian Communist Party, a role that he will maintain even following the Nakba, the “Palestinian catastrophe”.

Emile Habibi

In 1947 he was a supporter of the Partition Plan for Palestine and, even more importantly in his history, he decided to remain in his Haifa even when the latter became part of Israel; this choice had an incredible weight in his life, so much so that his most famous work of all, “The Pessottimist” is strongly linked to what he experienced first hand, making it a specific distinctive element of him. Under the newborn state he created the local communist party, the Maki, and its Arabic newspaper, the Ittihad, starting to make more and more inroads both in the political and cultural world. In 1965 he decided to leave the party to form, together with Tawfik Toubi and Meir Vilner, the Rafah, a communist and anti-Zionist party in which Mahmoud Darwish also played.

Emile Habibi
Emile Habibi with Mahmoud Darwish

Having abandoned Haifa in 1956 to move to Nazareth, the city where she spent the rest of her life, in 1972 she also decided to abandon her political activity to dedicate herself as best as possible to writing, giving life 2 years later to the “The Pessoptimist”, a book so important that it was considered by Banipal magazine as the 4th best book ever in Arabic. During the rest of his life he continued to write books, but only produced 3 other works. He died in 1996 in Nazareth, but decided to be buried in Haifa; He had the following engraved on his tombstone: “Stayed in Haifa”.

Bibliography (in Italian):

At the moment there are 3 works by Emile Habibi published in Italian:

“The Secret Life of Saeed the Pessoptimist” published by Editori Riuniti (1990)

Emile Habibi

Set in Haifa, the novel tells us about the extraordinary adventures of Felice, an Arab in the State of Israel. Emil Habibi with his sardonic, picaresque, brilliant style spares no one: Arabs, Israelis, progressives, reactionaries, hawks and doves; making extensive use of allegory and parody he does not lose the pleasure of saying what he wants. Habibi writes the novel in response to those who ignore the history of the Palestinians: get to know his works, and see the theatrical version of the novel “The Pessottimist”, translated into Hebrew “Ha’op-Simist”, as “The Jerusalem Post” wrote on 24 October 1986, it is a civic duty, just as it was to go and see films about the Shoah, about the Holocaust, “because it is time that every citizen of this State knows what it means to be an Arab among us”.

“Peccati dimenticati” published by Marsilio (1997)

Emile Habibi

An enigmatic and gigantic bottling, mysterious and apparently without reason, which floods all the streets of the city of Haifa is the pretext to reveal the most extravagant reactions of politicians and citizens, to demonstrate the absurdity and injustice of the administration of occupation, to dismantle the mechanisms of police stupidity and military violence.

“L’amore nel mio cuore” published by Edizioni Lavoro (2022)

Emile Habibi

“How difficult is the birth of the imagination, in a living story! The wound of pain remains alive in the author’s chest for nine months, for nine years, for his whole life”. A short and intense story, poetic traits, “so as not to make us forget – writes Isabella Camera d’Afflitto in the Presentation – how bad and frightening yesterday’s war can be, like that of every time and that of today”. Unfortunately, pages of great relevance.

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