From Publishers Weekly
In the mid-1960s, Ibrahim, a Palestinian-Muslim school teacher with literary ambitions, takes a job in a small Jordanian village and falls in love with Mariam, a Christian raised in Brazil who has returned to her home village. The problem with this love affair, as Ibrahim realizes in the retrospective voice that dominates the novel, is that he has loved his image of Mariam and has never understood her as a real person. Reality intrudes, however, when Mariam becomes pregnant: Ibrahim is paralyzed by the difficulties a Muslim-Christian marriage presents, and jealous of Mariam's prior adoration of a Brazilian priest. His growing commitment to Palestinian liberation after the 1967 war allows him to justify his return. When he returns to Jordan in 2000—a wealthy, twice-divorced and disillusioned secular Arab—he becomes obsessed with finding Mariam and his unknown son. The title's complexities mirror those of this fugue-like novel, which finds Ibrahim cycling among versions of himself and of Mariam. As Ibrahim's realizations pile up, their irreconcilability becomes a delicate and powerful allegory for Middle Eastern conflict. Palestinian novelist Khalifeh (Wild Thorns
), who won the 2006 Naguib Mahfouz medal for literature, offers a challenging take on vexing territory. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
"Her characters are so real you can actually relate to them by mistaking them for someone you know." -- The Daily Star, Jordan
"Sahar Khalifeh is the Virginia Woolf of Palestinian literature." -- Börsenblatt
"The one Arab novelist who has written one novel after another to show the inseparability of feminist issues from social and political concern is the Palestinian novelist Sahar Khalifeh, whom I consider the best Arab woman novelist in the twentieth century." -- Dr. Bouthaina Shaaban