The Woman I Left Behind

Trade Paper – $16.95

ISBN 978-1-931896-22-1
Publication Date
April 2006
Page Count
244 pages
Trim Size
5.5 x 8.5

The Woman I Left Behind

a Novel
Kim Jensen

The Woman I Left Behind is a poetically written novel about a turbulent love affair between a young American woman and a Palestinian refugee. When Irene, an intelligent, committed and discerning student meets Khalid, a Palestinian refugee now living in Southern California, she immediately knows that this man would cause her both immense pain and immense joy. Coming from two separate worlds that are at odds with each other, both Irene and Khalid have to overcome their cultural differences. Irene comes to realize that she has to break free from her parents' norms and values and lead a more meaningful life—a life not guided by superficialities but by a sense of commitment and purpose. After opening her eyes not only to the psychological wounds Khalid suffered during his experiences of war, deportation, and exile, but also to her own childhood wounds, Irene abandons her detached self, ultimately leading to a reconciliation with Khalid.

With its detailed depictions of modern Palestinian history, as well as its cast of colorful characters—from Palestinian feminists to American cyberpunks—Kim Jensen's novel reiterates the vital connections between politics, the imagination, and the most intimate aspects of our lives.

About the Author

Poet and novelist Kim Jensen has lived and taught in France, California, and the Middle East. She has published her work in a variety of journals and magazines. In 2001, she won the Raymond Carver prize for short fiction. Kim currently lives in Maryland where she serves on the editorial board of the Baltimore Review and is associate professor of English at the Community College of Baltimore County. She lives with her husband, Palestinian artist Zahi Khamis, and their two children. 


"Packed with politics and sensuality, warm as bread baked in a Palestinian village bakery, and passionate as California's purple jacaranda, The Woman I Left Behind is a marvelously told tale, a timely offering for American and Arab readers to view themselves in the other's intimate and unsparing mirror." 

—Sharif Elmusa, Al-Ahram Weekly

"This is a revolutionary love story, set in the present and written in a transparent prose style that doesn't give exaggeration, embellishment or sentimentality any important book for the years ahead." 

—Fanny Howe, author of On the Ground


"Fearless in both language and scope, Jensen's debut novel, The Woman I Left Behind, explores the relationship between an American and a Palestinian exile, who, despite their best intentions, discover that there can be no separation between political and personal identity, even in matters of the heart." 

—Susan McCallum-Smith, Baltimore Urbanite