Ghassan Kanafani

1936 - 1972

photo credits: Wikimedia Commons

languages spoken, written or signed:  ArabicEnglish
award received:  Lotus Prize for Literature
official website:

Ghassan Fayiz Kanafani (Arabic: غسان فايز كنفاني‎; 8 April 1936 – 8 July 1972) was a prominent Palestinian author and politician, considered to be a leading novelist of his generation and one of the Arab world's leading Palestinian writers. Kanafani's works were translated into more than 17 languages.Born in Acre, Mandatory Palestine, in 1936, his family were forced out of their hometown during the 1948 Palestine war. Kanafani later recalled the intense shame he felt on observing, aged 12, the men of his family surrendering their weapons to become refugees. The family settled in Damascus, Syria, where he completed his primary education. He then became a teacher for displaced Palestinian children in a refugee camp, where he began writing short stories in order to help his students contextualize their situation. He begun studying for an Arabic Literature degree at the University of Damascus in 1952, but before he could complete his degree, he was expelled from the university for his political affiliations with the Movement of Arab Nationalists (MAN), to which he had been recruited by George Habash. He later relocated to Kuwait and afterwards Beirut where he became immersed in Marxism. In 1961, he married Anni Høver, a Danish educationalist and children's rights activist, with whom he had two children. He became editor and wrote articles of a number of Arab magazines and newspapers. His Men in the Sun 1963 novel received widespread acclaim and, along with A World that is Not Ours, symbolize his first period of pessimism, which was later reversed in favor of active struggle in the aftermath of the 1967 Six-Day War. He thus joined the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) in that year and became its spokesman. In 1969, he drafted a PFLP program in which the movement officially took up Marxism-Leninism, which marked a departure from pan-Arab nationalism towards revolutionary Palestinian struggle.In 1972, while he was in Beirut, Kanafani and his 17-year old niece Lamees were killed by a bomb implanted in his car by the Mossad, which Israel stated was in response for the group's role in the Lod Airport massacre, but Kanafani's assassination may have been planned long before. Source: Wikipedia (en)

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