Sahar Khalifeh The Inheritance

ISBN 13: 9789774249396

The Inheritance

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In this powerful novel, acclaimed Palestinian author Sahar Khalifeh examines the stark realities in the lives of Palestinian women. Through her protagonist, Zeynab, born to an American mother and a Palestinian father, Khalifeh illuminates the disorienting experience of living between two worlds, and the search for identity that mirrors the Palestinians’ own quest for nationhood. Set against the emotionally charged background of the early 1990s - when the Gulf War and the Oslo Accords fundamentally shifted the political landscape - The Inheritance takes as its subject the fate of young Palestinian women who supported their families for decades working elsewhere in the Middle East. In vivid prose, Khalifeh traces the disruption caused by the Gulf War on the life of these women, as Zeynab returns to her homeland and tries to adapt to her new life on the West Bank after years spent in Kuwait.
In her previous novels, Sahar Khalifeh has established herself as the premier female novelist of the Palestinian diaspora; with The Inheritance, she breaks new ground in giving voice to these Palestinian women and their return from economic exile. With its critical portrayal of the Palestinian Authority, its mistakes, and limitations, The Inheritance offers a surprising look at the realities of Palestinian life and society. As the story of an immigrant torn between two cultures and struggling to adapt to both, Zeynab’s tale touches on universal themes that will resonate with readers everywhere.

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About the Author:

Sahar Khalifeh was born in the West Bank city of Nablus in 1941 and is the author of six novels. A former Fulbright scholar, she holds a B.A. from Bir Zeit University, and a Ph.D. in women’s studies and American literature from the University of Iowa. She divides her time between Amman and Nablus.

From Publishers Weekly:

This sober, feminist novel from Palestinian author Khalifeh (Wild Thorns) bears witness to a young woman's search for cultural identity in modern day America and the Middle East. Zayna grew up in Brooklyn, but her father's romantic stories of home-Wadi al-Rihan in the West Bank-capture her imagination. When, at fifteen Zayna becomes pregnant, her father, in keeping with tradition, tries to kill her to reclaim his honor. Zayna flees to her maternal American grandmother in Washington, D.C., (Zayna's parents are long divorced). Sworn off forever by her father, Zayna grows up in D.C. The novel leaps forward to Zayna's thirties, by which point she has achieved success as chair of an anthropology department, though she feels empty, with "a cold chill around and inside". When her Uncle writes with news of her father's imminent death, inviting her to claim her inheritance, Zayna goes eagerly to the West Bank in hopes of alleviating her deep homesickness. There she meets her extended family, and the narrative shifts to the dramatic story of precarious family honor centering on Zayna's cousin, Nahleh, a 50-year-old woman who taught in Kuwait until the Gulf War. Though Khalifeh poignantly illustrates the intractable attitudes limiting Palestinian women in their chaotic homeland, her patchwork of high-drama events produces a novel with a disjointed, disorienting structure.
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