My First and Only Love

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by Sahar Khalifeh, Translated by Aida Bamia


4/20/2021, paperback

SKU: 9789774169830


A deeply poetic account of love and resistance through a young girl's eyes by acclaimed writer, Sahar Khalifeh, called "the Virginia Woolf of Palestinian literature" (Börsenblatt)

Nidal, after many decades of restless exile, returns to her family home in Nablus, where she had lived with her grandmother before the 1948 Nakba that scattered her family across the globe. She was a young girl when the popular resistance began and, through the bloodshed and bitter struggle, Nidal fell in love with freedom fighter Rabie. He was her first and only real love--him and all that he represented: Palestine in its youth, the resistance fighters in the hills, the nation as embodied in her family home and in the land.

Many years later, Nidal and Rabie meet, and he encourages her to read her uncle Amin's memoirs. She immerses herself in the details of her family and national past and discovers the secret history of her absent mother.

Filled with emotional urgency and political immediacy, Sahar Khalifeh spins an epic tale reaching from the final days of the British Mandate to today with clear-eyed realism and great imagination.


"Khalifeh is simply the greatest Palestinian novelist and one of the world's greatest historical novelists, ranking with Naguib Mahfouz, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o, and Pramoedya Ananta Toer."-- James Holstun, Professor of English, University at Buffalo

"Incisively explores individual lives--particularly women's lives--in the years just before 1948."-- Marcia Lynx Qualey, Arabic Literature

About the Contributors:

Sahar Khalifeh, born in Nablus in 1941, is an acclaimed Palestinian author. She is hailed as a feminist writer and has written eleven novels, which have been translated into English, French, German, Spanish, and many other languages. She has won numerous international prizes, including the Naguib Mahfouz for Literature for The Image, the Icon, and the Covenant. As a young woman, she was awarded a Fulbright scholarship to study in the United States, and holds a Masters in English Literature from the University of North Carolina and a PhD in Women's Studies and American Literature from Iowa University. She currently lives in Amman, Jordan.

Aida Bamia is a literary translator and professor emeritus of Arabic language and literature at the University of Florida in Gainesville, where she lives.