Friday, August 13, 2010

Matt Beynon Rees

Matt Beynon Rees is the author of the acclaimed series of novels featuring Palestinian detective Omar Yussef: The Collaborator of Bethlehem, which won the CWA John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger award, A Grave in Gaza, The Samaritan's Secret, and The Fourth Assassin.

From his Q & A with Paul M. Foer in Moment Magazine:

After covering the Middle East for 13 years as a journalist, why did you leave the news business to become a novelist?

Journalism is focused on the worst elements of life. It turns everything into a stereotype, which you can then write in shorthand: “Here is the Palestinian terrorist” or “here is the Palestinian victim” instead of “here is a real person.”

So fiction frees you?

When people read the news they think it must be so depressing to be a Palestinian—they are so oppressed, there is so much violence, their society is so messed up. In my novels, there are actual Palestinians who are living the way Palestinians live. Some of them are irritable and some of them are likable, but they all have some reason for going on with their lives. Yussef knows that the politics of the Palestinians is bloody, ridiculous, flawed and corrupt. He doesn’t need to read an article every day about what a mess it is. He needs to make some sense of his own life. Journalism, at least as foreign correspondents do it, is political science. This is something that happened. Is it good or is it bad for the peace process? What do the Americans think about it, what do the Israelis or the Palestinians think about it? Who cares? No one does. Editors are now saying, “Readers are tired of the Middle East.” They are not. They are just tired of the way it appears in journalism. Fiction is a kind of anthropology where you have the time to review the society and try to understand the people in it. Fiction answers the questions that journalism is supposed to be answering because it answers them on a human level.

Who was the inspiration for Yussef?

The basis for Yussef is...[read on]
Visit Matt Beynon Rees' website and blog.

Read--Matt Rees's top 10 novels set in the Arab world.

Writers Read: Matt Beynon Rees.

The Page 69 Test: The Collaborator of Bethlehem.

My Book, The Movie: The Collaborator of Bethlehem.

The Page 69 Test: A Grave in Gaza.

The Page 69 Test: The Samaritan's Secret.

The Page 69 Test: The Fourth Assassin.

My Book, The Movie: The Fourth Assassin.

--Marshal Zeringue