(working title)

Written by

(غالب هلسا)

Published by


A modern tale of Jordanian history through the autobiographical lens of a leftist intellectual

Sultana is an experimental coming-of-age tale set in 1950s Cold War Jordan. The narrative follows Jeries as he recalls his adolescence; torn between the village and his boarding school in the capital. He tells an intergenerational tale of the indomitable Sultana and her daughter Amira, women from the village who embrace their sexual power and challenge their society’s customs and attitudes. They lie at the heart of a scandalous conspiracy that leaves Jeries with a dilemma: his ideals or his love. The novel intricately weaves together the memories of passion, politics, smuggling, and extortion that ultimately force Jeries to leave Jordan. The novel’s engagement with these loaded themes and its eroticism guaranteed the novel’s censorship in Jordan until after Halasa’s death in 1989.


Reasons to publish this book

On Goodreads’ list of the best 100 Arabic novels.

Although it’s an experimental novel, it has historical value; it narrates Jordan’s modern political and social history. Moreover, the novel has a progressive approach, especially concerning the issues of women, ethnicity, and religion. It offers an engaging and enlightening experience to readers in Europe today.


  • English


    by Alex B. Jreisat

    published as

    Sultana: a novel in the United States in 2019 by Blind Owl Press (Mazda Publishers)


Sultana: A Chapter from a Novel by Ghalib Halasa by Jadaliyya, April 2011 (excerpt from Sultana)

Selections: Ghalib Halasa (1923-1989) by Banipal, Summer 2006

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