Living With Violence: Conflict in Contemporary Cultures

Sahar Khalifeh

Wild Thorns

Background and Career

  • Born 1941, a Palestinian from Nablus, a town in the Israeli-occupied West Bank
  • Entered into traditional arranged marriage at age eighteen and divorced thirteen years later to begin writing
  • Has two daughters
  • Acquired an American education in literature and women’s studies
  • The only copy of her first novel confiscated by the Israelis
  • Her second novel published in Cairo
  • Her third novel Wild Thorns written in Arabic, translated into many languages
  • Taught at the University of Iowa and Bir Zeit University
  • Founded the Women’s Affairs Center in Nablus, Gaza City, and Amman
  • Considered one of most distinguished Palestinian novelists


We Are Not Your Slave Girls Anymore (1974)

Wild Thorns (1975)

The Sunflower (1980)

Memoirs of an Unrealistic Woman (1986)

The Door of the Courtyard (1990)

The Inheritance (1997)

Critical Sources and Reviews

Not much available except for listings below and internet search

Links and Other Related Topics

Only known English-language interview with author: Nazareth, Peter. “An Interview with Sahar Khalifeh,” Iowa Review 11.1(1980):67-86

Press release of Sahar Khalifeh discussing her sixth novel: (date unknown): n.pag. Online. Darat al Funun. Internet. 31 March 1998. Available:

Online Resource for Palestinian Culture (includes bibliographies and biographies of authors, including Khalifeh) : Bailasan Co. (January 1997): n.pag. Online. Khalil Kakakini Cultural Center. Internet. (18 April 1998) Available:

Article on Arab Women Writers: Amireh, Amal. “Problems and Prospects for Publishing in the West: Arab Women Writers Today,” Al-Jadid Magazine 2.10 (August 1996) Available:

Al-Nakba (The Cataclysm) , A Site About the Destruction of Palestine: Bailasan Co. (date unknown): n.pag. Online. Khalil Sakakini Cultural Center. Internet (31 March 1998) Available:

Selected Bibliography of Arab Women Writers

  1. Secondary/Critical Texts
    • Women and Gender in Islam, Leila Ahmed
    • Opening the Gates, Margot Badran and Miriam Cooke
    • Feminists, Islam and Nation, Margot Badran
    • The Women’s Awakening in Egypt, Beth Baron
    • Women’s Body, Women’s World, Fedwa Malti-Douglas
    • Transfigurations of the Maghreb, Winifred Woodhull
  2. Primary Texts (Fiction)
    • Year of the Elephant, Leila Abouzeid
    • Fantasia, Asia Djebar
    • Wild Thorns, Sahar Khalifeh
    • Distant View of a Minaret, Alifa Rifaat
    • Woman at Point Zero, The Fall of the Imam, Nawaal el-Saadawi
    • The Story of Azhra, Women of Sand and Myrrh, Hanaan al-Shaykh
    • In the Eye of the Sun, Ahdaf Soueif
    • Mountain Journey, Fadwa Tuqan
  3. Auto/biography
    • This Side of Peace, Hanan Ashrawi
    • Harem-Years, Huda Shaarawi
  4. Folklore
    • The Wiles of Men, Salwa Bakr
    • My Grandmother’s Cactus, Marilyn Booth
    • Arabic Folktales, Bushnaq
    • Speak, Bird, Speak and Speak Again, Muhawi and Kanaana

Retired Discussion Series

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