Men in the Sun

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Men in the Sun (Arabic: رجال في الشمس Rijāl fī ash-Shams) is a novel by Palestinian writer and political activist Ghassan Kanafani (1936–72), originally published in 1962.[1]

Men in the Sun follows three Palestinian refugees seeking to travel from the refugee camps in Iraq, where they cannot find work, to Kuwait where they hope to find work as laborers in the oil boom. The three men each arrange with a clerk at a local store to be smuggled to Kuwait by a driver. The men are treated gruffly and are humiliated by the process. Once they finally arrange for travel, they are forced to ride in the back of the truck across the desert on their way to Kuwait. At several check points, the men hide in a large, empty, water tank in the stifling mid-day heat as the driver arranges paperwork to get through. After going through the last check point, within easy driving distance of the travelers' ultimate goal of Kuwait, the driver opens the tank to let the men out only to find they have died.

Men in the Sun has been translated into many languages. Its description of the hardships and insecurity of Palestinian refugee life, and its political and psychological subtext (subtly criticizing corruption, political passivity and defeatism within Arab and Palestinian society) affected the Arab cultural and political debate of the time. It also uses modernist narrative structures and storytelling methods.

Men in the Sun has been filmed as al-Makhduun (The Deceived or The Dupes), by Egyptian director Tawfiq Saleh.[2]

The ending of the 1972 film was altered to show the three Palestinians beating on the walls of their hiding place as they suffocate. This ending was intended to reflect the political reality at a time when resistance movements had been established in the wake of the 1967 war.

Men in the Sun was originally published in 1962. In the novella, the Palestinians die in silence.[3]


  1. ^ Kilpatrick, p. 17
  2. ^ Yaqub, p. 121
  3. ^ Kanafani, Ghassan (1999). Men in the Sun and Other Palestinian Stories. p. 13. Those who have seen the filmed version of the novella, The Deceived (1972) will realize that the plot has been altered, so the three Palestinians who in the book die in silence are shown in the film beating on the walls of their hiding place as they suffocate, to attract the attention of those outside. A film similar to the novella in its denouement would have appeared glaringly incongruous at a time when the resistance movements were established. 


  • Kilpatrick, Hilary. Introduction. Men in the Sun & Other Palestinian Stories. By Ghassān Kanafānī. Trans. Hilary Kilpatrick. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 1999. Print.
  • Yaqub, Nadia. "The Dupes: Three Generations Uprooted From Palestine and Betrayed." Film in the Middle East and North Africa: Creative Dissidence. By Josef Gugler. Austin: University of Texas, 2011. Print.