And although he did not win the award announced on Thursday, Teebi feels honored to be shortlisted for it. This competition has been around for 30 years, and some of the winners were big names in Canadian literature, including Michael Ondaatje and David Bergen.
The story, titled “Your First Palestinian Woman” – and the first story Teebi published on the CBC Books website – is about a Palestinian immigrant to Toronto, the narrator who met a woman (a lawyer, as it happens ) engaged. “Who essentially takes their country’s cause as their own,” he says. “She falls in love with the idea of promoting Palestine and does many things to raise awareness among Palestinians, and this is an unexpected feeling for him. Palestine in the west is a difficult thing. “
But the friend of the narrator “becomes so involved in her crusade for Palestine that he almost feels as if he doesn’t deserve to be part of her life. As an immigrant, he feels less Palestinian than those in Palestine. “The friend then visits Palestine and takes a client there with her and would like to spend more time there – perhaps, the narrator suspects, to spend more time with this client,“ her first Palestinian ”.
The key aspect of the story, says Teebi, “is how nice it feels as an immigrant to have an ally … someone who fully understands your background and is fully invested in something that, as an immigrant, may be trying to adapt to society you may not want to stress about yourself. Immigrants often talk about how they are Canadians rather than about them [as] People of whom they are originally. “
Teebi’s own background mirrors that of his protagonist. Born in Kuwait to Palestinian parents, he lived in the United States for some time before moving to Montreal with his family in 1993 at the age of 15 and moving to Toronto about five years later. After working in bioinformatics for several years, he attended law school and earned a JD (Common Law) from the University of Ottawa in 2012. The following year he was practiced as an Ontario attorney for Norton Rose Fulbright Canada LLP. where he had also summery and articulated.