Chief Complaint

A Country Doctor’s Tales of Life in Galilee
by Hatim Kanaaneh

Hatim Kanaaneh is a master story-teller, whose intimate portraits of village life contain far bigger truths about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict than any dry political analysis.Jonathan Cook, Author of Disappearing Palestine: Israel's Experiment in Human Despair

Chief Complaint

In Chief Complaint, Hatim Kanaaneh, MD, explores the changing, precarious, and ever-shrinking world of Palestinians living in Israel. As his village’s first Western-trained physician, Kanaaneh has had intimate access to his neighbor’s lives, which he chronicles here in a fictionalized collection of vignettes. These compelling short stories reveal the struggles, triumphs, memories, and hopes of the indigenous Palestinian community living in a state that does not acknowledge their past or encourage their future.

In this captivating page turner, Dr. Kanaaneh reminds us that the Palestinians who remained after the Nakba are the essential part of the native society that gave a lie to the Israeli myth of ‘a land without a people.’Susan Abulhawa, Author of Mornings in Jenin and My Voice Sought the Wind

Each story is titled with the “chief complaint” of its protagonist, the principal reason that the patient sought medical attention at Kanaaneh’s clinic. Using the classic tool of the medical profession known as the “review of systems” as a literary device, Kanaaneh deftly draws the reader in to a fascinating cast of characters, narrating their troubles and pain as well as the joys that punctuate life for the Palestinians of Galilee. Ultimately, this collection poignantly conveys their community’s foundational chief complaint, its conflicted relationship with the state of Israel.

In this cleverly crafted novel, Dr Hatim Kanaaneh, creates a dazzling tapestry of Palestinian life in the Galilee through a series of short stories told through a gateway of physical ailments, or ‘chief complaints,’ of his characters, who are also his patients. Each chapter is a portrait of a native son or daughter of the land struggling with the continuity of their indigenous society after coming under the foreign rule of conquering Zionists. In this captivating page turner, Dr. Kanaaneh reminds us that the Palestinians who remained after the Nakba are the essential part of the native society that gave a lie to the Israeli myth of ‘a land without a people.’
–Susan Abulhawa, Author of Mornings in Jenin and My Voice Sought the Wind
These vividly observed and always humourously recounted tales of a Palestinian doctor’s labours are at once a medical compendium of suffering and, more significantly, a testament to the Palestinian community’s will to endure and thrive in the face of oppression. Hatim Kanaaneh is a master story-teller, whose intimate portraits of village life contain far bigger truths about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict than any dry political analysis.
–Jonathan Cook, Author of Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair
A deep and insightful portrait of a little-known community: the Palestinians citizens of Israel. No one can fail to be charmed by these intimate, first-hand accounts of illness and health in an Arab village living in the shadow of Israeli discrimination.
–Ghada Karmi, Author of Married to Another Man: Israel’s Dilemma in Palestine
Hatim Kanaaneh, a Palestinian physician with Israeli citizenship, has written a poignant, stark, and loving collection of memories from a small village in the Galilee; the book organized by the medical complaints presented by his fellow villagers. Kanaaneh delves into the complex relationships of agricultural life, mythical tales from a pre-1948 rural paradise, (not without superstition and human frailty), the harsh consequences of the 1948 war, the decades of military rule within Israel, and the ongoing injustices and deprivation of modern Israeli policy and politics. The slow moving tales recreate that sense of a bygone era, where a blend of gossip, nostalgia, outrage, perseverance, and wisdom is revealed in the conversations and behaviors of people, from illiterate landless peasants to Western educated professionals, many defined by that bewilderingly sinister phrase, ‘present absentees,’ trying to survive and succeed in a land that does not want them.
–Alice Rothchild, Author of Condition Critical: Life and Death in Israel/Palestine
In the style of the enchanting tales from One Thousand and One Nights, Hatim Kanaaneh captivates the reader with his stories about his practice as a (Harvard-educated) village doctor in a traditional Arab town in Israel. Chief Complaint interweaves tales of illness and healing with loss of traditions and evolving family relationships. This gem of a book illustrates how social change and political discrimination and oppression are not only played out in the body politic, but also inside the bodies of the villagers.
–Bessel Van Der Kolk, MD, Professor of Psychiatry, Boston University School of Medicine and Author of The Body Keeps the Score: Mind, Brain and Body in the Healing of Trauma

Chief Complaint is available in Paperback ($20.99) and Ebook ($9.99)

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256 pages, 5.5″ X 8.5″
Published February 2015
ISBN 9781935982340