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Itamar S.N., White Smoke
Itamar S.N., White Smoke

White Smoke, A New LGBTI Middle Eastern Novel

We’re here with Itamar S.N., the author of the new novel, White Smoke.

Your book deals with some political and social issues. From the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to LGBT rights. How do you describe your book?

White Smoke is, above all, a love story. A love between two men, a patriotic passion for one’s country, and the primary love for all humans. I believe that it doesn’t matter whether it’s women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, or minorities’ rights. In the end, it all comes down to basic human rights. These are not separate battles. This is one fight where we must join forces to make our world a better place.

Can you tell us a little about your book, so we’ll all understand the battles you are writing about?

White Smoke is the story of an alternative family in an alternative country, Isratine.

Yonatan Green is a bisexual, intellectual troublemaker who will do anything to provoke his right-wing father, Israel’s Prime Minister. However, Yonatan finds himself proud of his father for the first time when he facilitates the creation of Isratine: a democratic union of Israel and the Palestinian.

When Yonatan meets Meir, a shy tech entrepreneur, he falls in love for the first time, and the couple decides to marry. The family grows when fate brings Amal into their lives: a Palestinian girl, a family-honor acid attack victim. Their love story unfolds alongside the new Isratine State. But the euphoria of peace and unification starts to fade when both Jewish and Arab anti-liberal forces join forces, putting the newfound, delicate democracy in jeopardy and threatening the life of Yonatan’s family. As smoke spreads over the country, the Prime Minister must acknowledge his mistakes and rethink the ambitious dream of Isratine. I can’t tell you how this story ends:)

This book also addresses the continuing brutalization of women in the Middle East, including acid attacks. What research led you to this specific crime, and why did you choose it?

Amal, my heroine, muse, my deus ex machina, is a young Palestinian woman with so many dreams cloistered in a conservative, patriarchal community. Her brother throws acid on her face for merely suspecting that she dishonored the family by sleeping with Jews. Her saviors, unexpectedly, are a powerful, gay married couple. It makes Amal question everything she knows. White Smoke was born to undermine the traditional “right and left” conception. The clash of civilizations conception. Unimaginably, many of the yearly acid attack crimes worldwide are executed by women against women, mainly by the mother-in-law. She believes her daughter-in-law is not good enough as a wife for her son. Lineages of oppressed women pass the wrongdoing from mother to daughter. It’s time to wake up.

Did you experience love such as Yonatan and Meir have?

Unfortunately, it’s not an autobiographic part of the book. I knew love in my life, I was heartbroken, but I still hope that my Meir is out there searching for me. Spread the rumor that I’m single:)

Where do you stand regarding Israel and turkey’s relations?

I was only once, but for a whole week in Istanbul. I felt totally at home, a thing I don’t say easily. We are sisters, the only democrat countries in our crazy Middle East region. I am not blind and not too polite to tell the obvious truth. I don’t like the gap and hostility between our countries in the last decade. But, and that’s a big but, I think this gap is an artificial gap between governments and not between us the peoples. We mustn’t let any governmental interests separate us. I want you to feel at home today in Tel Aviv as much as I felt at home in your beautiful country back in 2008.

Back to the book. I want to ask about the symbol on the flag of the new country, Isratine. I can see it comprise our Islamic crescent, your star of David, and the Christian cross. Why did you pick this symbol?

Do you want to hear a secret? I drew this symbol 15 years ago and tattooed it on my back. It manifests my fundamental belief that God is one and humanity is stupid and crazy to fight whose God is right or real or another crap. Wake up, for God’s sake.  There is one God, and she is nothing but love.

Any message you want to send to our readers?

I wish to ask people to give books a chance. In our crazy fast-forward technological world, people have become overwhelmed and restless from too much information. There is no wonder why they prefer one-night-stand over putting effort into a long-term relationship; they prefer even the Photo on Instagram over reading a post on Facebook. We’ve become more unhappy, more frustrated. A book is a long-term relationship comparing to a movie or a Tik-Tok story.  It’s time to rediscover the joy and calmness of a long-term relationship with a friend you long for until you meet again tomorrow.

Thanks too much.

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