A Thousand Farewells

A Thousand Farewells

A Reporter’s Journey From Refugee Camp To The Arab Spring

Written by:

  • Hardcover
  • ISBN 9780670069095
  • 368 Pages
  • Viking
  • Adult




In 1976, Nahlah Ayed’s family gave up their comfortable life in Winnipeg for the squalor of a Palestinian refugee camp in Amman, Jordan. The transition was jarring, but it was from this uncomfortable situation that Ayed first observed the people whose heritage she shared. The family returned to Canada when she was thirteen, and Ayed ignored the Middle East for many years. But the First Gulf War and the events of 9/11 reignited her interest. Soon she was reporting from the region full-time, trying to make sense of the wars and upheavals that have affected its people and sent so many of them seeking a better life elsewhere.

In A Thousand Farewells, Ayed describes with sympathy and insight the myriad ways in which the Arab people have fought against oppression and loss as seen from her own early days witnessing protests in Amman, and the wars, crackdowns, and uprisings she has reported on in countries across the region.

This is the heartfelt and personal chronicle of a journalist who has devoted much of her career to covering one of the world’s most vexing regions.


“Ayed’s voice is fresh in Middle East coverage. She is plain-spoken, intellectually honest.” – National Post

“Powerful … [A Thousand Farewells is] part memoir, part history lesson on the Arab world—and quietly, but oh so passionately, a defence of good old-fashioned journalism in a time of cost cuts and Google News…. Ayed brings insight to big societal issues …. But she is at her most persuasive recounting the stories of ordinary Arabs she meets along the way.” – The Gazette (Montreal)

In the Canadian media landscape, it’s a rare journalist who views reporting as a selfless calling that subjugates ego in favour of a well-reported story. That’s why Nahlah Ayed’s new memoir is a refreshing take on the life of an overseas correspondent in some of the world’s most volatile hot spots…. Ayed’s all-consuming work ethic is apparent in the care and attention to detail throughout this book…. By no means a comprehensive overview of the region, A Thousand Farewells is nonetheless a valuable street-level view that doesn’t boast of big names interviewed or famous company kept. Rather, this genuinely interesting individual dedicated to no-nonsense coverage of a difficult part of the world offers readers a good narrative that recalls an age when the substance of journalists’ work took precedence over their well-coiffed personas.” – Quill & Quire (starred review)

“[A Thousand Farewells is] brisk but carefully measured…. A compelling collection of stories and subjects, memories and snippets of well-chosen journalistic detail.” – Winnipeg Free Press