My First and Only Love

Sahar Khalifeh
Translated by Aida Bamia


The latest novel from renowned Palestinian writer Sahar Khalifeh, a deeply poetic account of love and resistance through a young girl’s eyes

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 and spring, 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 that her absent mother had been nurse and lover to Palestinian leader Abdel-Qader al-Husseini.

Set in the final days of the British Mandate, Sahar Khalifeh’s spins an epic tale filled with emotional urgency and political immediacy.


Cover artwork by Najat El-Taji El-Khairy ©



“The best Arab woman novelist in the twentieth century.”―Dr. Bouthaina Shaaban

"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.”―Jim Holstun, Professor of English, University at Buffalo

“Khalifeh effectively paints a crazy world where individuals seek to lead normal lives under nightmarish conditions . . . .Highly recommended.” ―Library Journal

“In Khalifeh’s book, Palestinian Christians and Muslims, Jewish immigrants, and British colonial leaders are all treated with equal sympathy”― Women’s Review of Books

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

“The author invokes a sacred heritage that remains at once vital and powerful.”―Dr. Abdel Moneim Tallima

“Sahar Khalifeh is the Virginia Woolf of Palestinian literature.”― Börsenblatt



Sahar Khalifeh

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. She lives in 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.

Find out more
  • January 5th 2021
  • $19.95 / £12.99 / LE250
  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 9789774169830

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