"A story of a man trying to rewrite his life"
Screened at the Special Series Selection, Berlinale 2016
Nominee for Best Non-English Language Drama Series at C21 International Drama Award
The Writer is an auto fictional series from the creator of the award-winning comedy Arab Labor, Sayed Kashua. It centers on Kashua’s fictional self, Kateb, who like the lead character Amjad from his former series Arab Labor, is an Arab Palestinian living in Israel and struggling with an identity crisis which affects his and his whole family’s sense of belonging and nationality.
Following the overnight success and critical acclaim of his hit TV series Arab Labor, Kateb has become something of a “poster boy” for the new age Arab-Israeli, one who integrates with Israeli culture seamlessly and knows how to wield his pen in razor sharp criticism, yet be well-received by the public and critics alike.
Everything seems perfect, but as he nears 40, he has a growing sense of shame and loathing towards the niche he has carved out for himself. Painfully aware of the gap between reality and its portrayal on the show, he knows what a difference there is between his real self and his lead character who has been written to please and find favor. The more he writes his own character on the show, the greater the disparity.
In Arab Labor, Kateb’s fictional self, Amjad is happily married and enjoys life as a typical Israeli middle-class citizen; but Kateb himself views marriage and the Israeli bourgeoisie as a nightmare he can’t seem to escape. He feels trapped in the gilded cage he has created by living through his public alter ego. He will always wonder if people really like his writing, or if the well-orchestrated chorus of applause is stemming from the fact that he is the right Arab, in the right place, at the right time.
The series observes the reality of a hybrid Israeli-Palestinian existence and the personal and political toll it can take on the individual. Kashua raises some very pointed personal questions: Am I exploiting my identity? Am I writing the truth? Can I write about something else, or someone else? Is this the path I have chosen for myself? And will this cast doubt on everything I’ve taken for granted till now – my marriage, my family, my writing career, and even choosing Israel as my home?