The Only Thing that Matters

Nancy Murray's blog about The Only Thing that Matters.

The Woman I Left Behind

Review from Washington Report on Middle East Affairs
From The Jordan Times
Al-Ahram Weekly
Profile of Kim in the Baltimore City Paper
Review in Electronic Intifada
Review for Al Jadid Review by Lynne Rogers.
Profile in the Adirondack Post-Star
Review by Ron Jacobs for Dissident Voice.

Bread Alone

Review of Bread Alone in the Baltimore City Paper
Review of Bread Alone by Djelloul Marbrook
Review of Bread Alone by Sally Bland, Jordan Times

Student Analysis Papers

Kristen Harper—

Cara Di Guiseppe—
“The Intercourse of Poetry and Prose: Exploring Kim Jensen's Creative Act”

John Kilroy—
“An Analyis of Modes of Narration”


The Woman I Left Behind

Bread Alone

“A beautifully written and promising first novel”

Middle East Studies Association Bulletin

“This is a love story with an edge to it, a novel that is daring in style and content, a riveting exploration of the place where politics, culture and psychology intersect, where a history of wars collides with everyday life.”

Jordan Times

“Debut novelist Jensen, winner of the 2001 Raymond Carver Prize for Short Fiction, powerfully portrays Khalid's boyhood amid the violence of the Middle East and the proud but complicated family that he either lost or left behind...the tale is well crafted, with its scenes of high drama and great sex. A first novel that offers a lot more than most.”

Kirkus Reviews

“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 room. Its frank politics, and its cold appraisal of whiteness, are rare in contemporary American writing. That is, the story has an unapologetic commitment to social change. The struggle between Irene and Khalid is almost equal in strength and therefore almost without a victory; the powers keep shifting. The truth given by this story is that a victory by one would mean an implicit defeat for BOTH of them. This is the lesson, critical to our time: that the sustaining of balance between warriors is an act of love. This is an important book for the years ahead.”

Fanny Howe

“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 S. Elmusa, Al-Ahram Weekly; Co-editor of Grape Leaves: A Century of Arab-American Poetry

The Woman I left Behind is much more than an untraditional love story.  A Palestinian refugee and a young American woman become equally entangled in the each other’s past, present and future.  Their story is interwoven with class struggle, national aspirations, careers, love, and the good and bad of each other’s culture.  Both of them, searching for a meaningful relationship, find that courage is needed when they are confronted with the opportunity to learn about themselves through the other.  While living in California, Irene’s lover, Khalid, has flashbacks of his days in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in 1982: “There is no gap between present and memory.  No chain of events that makes sense.  No moment that he can pinpoint and say, ‘that’s the past’ and ‘now it’s over.’”  This simple distinction of how time is framed captures an invaluable lesson for all those who try to make sense of the chasm between the West and Middle East.  This novel may be the softest entry point for both peoples, Palestinians and Americans, to learn how similar, and different, both are.”

Sam Bahour,co-editor of Homeland: Oral Histories of Palestine and Palestinians

“In The Woman I Left Behind, Kim Jensen creates a compelling portrait of the life of young Sayeed, who loses his parents to war and occupation. This powerful narrative conveys the poverty, chaos, and pain— as well as the spirited resistance of his community— in a way I had not felt before. It was hard to put this book down.”

  — Penny Rosenwasser, author of Voices from a 'Promised Land': Palestinian & Israeli Peace Activists Speak Their Hearts.

“If you care about the Palestinian struggle for justice, if you love a love story, if you' ve ever been an activist or tried to work through a relationship, or rebelled in any way, this book is for you. But maybe, because it's such a good story& because the characters are so real& maybe because the opening chapter really transports the reader to occupied Palestine--so thirsty--for water, for justice, for freedom& maybe this book is for those who don' t know about the Palestinian cause. Maybe this book will cross that chasm of ignorance and introduce a new audience to the realities of Palestinian existence. Because it's good. Because the universality of the human issues addressed in Jensen's debut novel assures its appeal to a broad audience while the richness of the writing enhances that allure. Jensen's description is artistic, her voice honest, her politics informed. The Woman I Left Behind is a love story between Khalid, the proud and bitter Palestinian, exiled alone while still a boy, and Irene, dreamy and rebellious, in self-exile from her family. Their love is passionate but the distrusting weight of their personal dysfunction drags them down into a bog of cultural and political misunderstandings that threatens the possibility of a future harmonic existence together. Maybe, just maybe, the excellent novel, with its unflinching portrayal of the all-too-little-known Palestinian struggle, will serve as one more small stepping stone toward a future harmonic existence for all of us.”

Sara Powell, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

“This powerful work reproduces the shock of the life that millions of people lead in silence, in darkness.
These poems can wake up a rock.”

Etel Adnan, author of Sitt Marie Rose

“Kim Jensen’s poems are searing and spare. They will haunt you and stretch your vision. You won’t be the same person after reading them that you were before.”

Naomi Shihab Nye, author of Habibi and Going, Going

“In a time of news about war we can only reflect the devastation of others.  What comes in can't come out.  True resistance seems muted, dissolved.  Here we arrive at just such a landscape, but perhaps because it is a woman's terrain, we are at least given bread.”

Fanny Howe, award-winning poet and author of On the Ground




Maryland Morning. WYPR. Baltimore February 17, 2010--Interview with Tom Hall

Kim's interview with Radio Tahrir host Barbara Nimri Aziz. Interview aired in New York City on WBAI, June 19, 2007

Radio interview with other guests on Radio Intifada, KPFK, Los Angeles. Host Hamoud Salhi. Interview aired November 30, 2006.

Kim's Interview on the Marc Steiner Show.

Interview on Write-On Radio, KFAI, 90.3 in Minneapolis on June 1, 2006.