- The Image, the Icon, and the Covenant
Documenting a historic struggle with fresh vision, Sahar Khalifeh has penned what is at once a re-casting of the story of the Holy Family, a lyrical ode to Arab Jerusalem, and a call for liberation, not just of a nation but of its individual women and men.
After abandoning his beloved Mariam when she falls pregnant, and escaping her brothers’ bullets, Ibrahim abandons his own ideals and dreams of becoming a fiction writer, opting instead to follow the path of wealth and commercial success abroad approved by his father. Thirty years later, lonely and disillusioned, an older Ibrahim returns to Ramallah to retrace the past he tried to leave behind. He sets out on a long and frustrating quest to track down Mariam, which takes him from the West Bank to Israel. Along the way he encounters his son, Michael, a young man with spiritual powers that enable him to see what is unknown and find what has gone missing.
The novel weaves religious and political symbolism into a story of love and loss. At its core is Ibrahim’s—the Palestinian’s—agonizing but unrelenting search for a home, a center, fulfillment that, despite material success, continues to be elusive.
Sahar Khalifeh was born in Nablus in 1941 and is the author of eight novels, including The Inheritance (AUC Press, 2005) and Of Noble Origins (AUC Press, 2012). She was awarded the Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature in 2006 for The Image, the Icon, and the Covenant (AUC Press, 2007). She holds a PhD in women’s studies and American literature from the University of Iowa. She divides her time between Amman and Nablus.
Aida Bamia is professor emerita of Arabic language and literature at the University of Florida. She is the translator of The Inheritance (AUC Press, 2005), Papa Sartre by Ali Bader (AUC Press, 2009), and Heart of the Night by Naguib Mahfouz (AUC Press, 2011).